Question & Answer 2 – Amanda Johnston

Question 2

He was back in the early hours of Sunday morning / with a new scar and another reason to hate the world / told me he had HIV / is Britain’s longest survivor / had to leave Glasgow / and Edinburgh / and Gloucester / and London / all with a red ribbon and the inevitable heat death / of the social universe he had been trying to construct.

He had a way with words / made me reveal my secrets by the sugar stand of a coffee shop / have you ever meet someone like this Amanda? Someone who burns the strands / on the candle and makes you hold the melted wax closer to your soul than you ever wanted?

I told him about my scar / the one I have tried desperately to coat in insomnia / and group therapy / and the scars of greater people / the reason I can’t look in the mirror and not see my father / or why I break when I am alone with other men.

– Aaron Kent

Answer 2

I keep faith in tangible things: the known
weight of bagged rice, ounces of milk,
the height of children recorded on doorframes,
my hand balancing time with lead.

Before the land was plotted, scored into square
footage, before rings were sized and exchanged,
we needed to see what was within: the microscopic
language of platelets, of bodies fused together.

What armies sit dormant? What pathogens
did we welcome in our slow and steady march
of coming? What bloomed in silence before
the bubbling of skin feverish with sweat?

I’d like to think I know my body and the bodies
of others multiplied across my back better
than their genetic sequence. We kiss and you kiss
them all again, again, welcoming home what is.

– Amanda Johnston