He stood there motionless,
His body pressed up against the window
That looked out onto the landing strip,
Tears trickling down his wrinkled face.
A small chuckle emanated from him,
Remembering when, as a boy, he romped in the tall grass
Where planes now land and take off.
It had been forty years
Since he had seen his brother.
He could not even remember
What the fight was all about.
All he saw as he looked out through
That huge glass window
Was he and his brother,
Laughing and playing in the dirt.
They were so happy then.
Too bad they had to grow up.
His thoughts returned to the present,
And so did the tears.
They came with mixed feelings of joy and sadness.
They were jostling for position.
Who will win?
Maybe it will be a tie.
“This poem was inspired by a poem we read in the ASC Creative Workshop called, 'For My Sister, Who Is Long Gone,' by the poet Red Hawk. Before I came to Creative Writing, I would have handled the first lines of the poem as, ‘the man was looking out the window.’ Instead, I wrote a fuller description. Through this workshop, I’ve found my own style and developed an appreciation for the English language.
“This poem is fiction, but it brought out some feelings I’ve had since my diagnosis. My sister and I have been estranged. Our relationship is not as close and loving as it once was. This poem allowed me to explore those feelings. It’s an example of how the workshop helps me. The workshop shined a light on me in the dark space of depression I was living in. Many times, the day of the workshop was the one day each week I knew I would be getting out of bed.
“I now get out of bed more days a week, because being in the workshop has been a rebirth of my productivity. Four days a week, I now contribute to ASC doing data entry. ASC has allowed me the flexibility to make sure I’m not overworked or overstressed, and they’re very understanding on the days when I’m reminded that I have HIV.
“I am also an ASC Poetry Leader and I run some of the workshops. This experience has helped me pass knowledge along and develop my skills as an educator. This week, I’ll be teaching the workshop and will bring in an Essex Hemphill’s poem for the group discussion. Essex’s poems about HIV/AIDS and being a Black gay man are still very relevant to us today. I had the great pleasure of knowing Essex while he was alive. His pioneering of gay Black writing was and is very important to me.”
—Shurland H. Aird
Shurland H. Aird has been an active participant in the ASC Creative Writing Workshop for more than four years. His poems have appeared in the past four editions of ASC’s literary magazine, Situations. Shurland is a graduate of the Zwickler Memorial Poetry Leadership Program at ASC, and now guest-teaches poetry workshops at the agency.