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March 11, 1999 - Image 20

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The Michigan Daily, 1999-03-11

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2B - The Michigan Daily - literary Magazine - Thursday, March 11, 1999

The Michigan Daily - Literary Magaz

Contents

~ "Night-Time In Nowhere, America,"
poem by Julia Shih ............................2B
/ "Blood and Water,"
essay by Matthew Schmitt ...................3B
/ "Coming Clean,"
short fiction by Melissa Robbins ..........4B
/ "After Dinner, September,"
poem by Melissa L. Jones ....................6B
/ "Integrity in a Large Room,"
poem by Camille Noe .........................6B

/ "Ode to an Eggplant,"
poem by Joelle Renstrom .....................6B
/ "Aloe Vera's Mysterious Malady, or An Indigo
Dream," shortfction by Edward Kehog ...........7B
/ "Solace in a Closed Closet,"
shortfiction by Renee S. Zukin ........... .....1013
/ "Smoke Signals from Amelia Earheart,"
poem by Melanie Kenny................11B
/ "Racetrack,"poem by Sarah Flint ...1113
/ "In Three Minutes,"poem by Joe Fletcher ....12B

.. .:.

CHRIOHurnN TKAr K/Daily

MARGARET MYERS/Daily

Night-Time In
Nowhere, erca
By Julia Shih
Interior, Kitchen.
Again.
Five nights of
waiting for that flickering bulb to
burn out.
Missing you.
Expecting you to strut through
that door
The broken screen bangin'
against the cheap tin of the
trailer.
You sayin' to me,
"Sorry, babe. I got lost
comin' back from the market."
And me forgetting that it's
been exactly five nights since
my tears ran dry.
)O U lI!E Z9fZIZIV
to join US for a reception
honoring the Literary Magazine writers
Tomorrow, March 12,1999 7:0-9:00pm
downstairs at Cava Java
(corner of South University & East University)
Hear U of M students read and discuss their own literature
published in gle fQ Literary Magazine

BLOOD
Continued from Page 1413
"Steven, we're going to get HIV tests
again, tomorrow"
"Matt, we just had them a few months
ago and it was all fine -"
"Fuck. That was before we found out
you were carrying chlamydia." I was
sweating.
He turned away. I apologetically reached
out to touch his back.
"Don't touch me," his whisper seethed.
"I'm sorry. But, shit, if we've got this,
we could have other things too"
"But we had the test after the three
month window thing, um, the window
period. It's all good," his whisper quivered
as he stuttered.
"There is always a chance that it could
have been messed up."
"I don't have time tomorrow, I've got a
paper to write and th-"
"Goddammit Steven! This is so much
more important. Don't trivialize me. You
can't do this to me! I'm not the one who
was being stupid. You're the one -"
"Shut up!" And the silence that followed
was louder than the 3 a.m. trains passing
through Ann Arbor. I don't even remember
hearing our breath. Then, a strange sucking
of air.
"Steven?" I reached out and gently
pulled at his shoulder. He immediately
turned over and embraced me.
"I'm scared." His face was wet.
"I'm scared too." Holding, Holding on.
Back to the University Health Service
Building. No syphilis, no gonorrhea. Only
chlamydia. We went upstairs. Free anony-
mous HIV testing. But we paid the $35 to
have the test results returned in two days
rather than two weeks.
For two strange days, we avoided both
each other and the notions of disease. With
the exception of reminders to take antibi-
otics, we hardly spoke to one another. Just
reminders, and the occasional, "good-bye,
I love you."
We both went to our morning classes.

Agreed to meet at UHS. On my walk
across campus, I noticed everything and
nothing at the same time. There were the
thousands of people present, some milling
about, some briskly getting somewhere,
others taking their time. I started off by
walking normally. But then I pictured
myself, four years earlier, sitting at my
kitchen table, basking in a relieved pride.
Holding that letter from the Red Cross in
my left hand, a glass of water in my right. I
became angry, spiteful with that pride. I
reconstructed the memory and smashed
the glass and ripped the letter. Closer, I
moved closer to the building
one step at a time don 't run breathe
normally i'm going to kill him how
could he be so fucking stupid no hi
mom, dad, i'm gay - and i have HIV
i 'm going to lay in bed for weeks how
could i have been so stupid don't run
stop panting did you take your antibiot-
ic this morning i'm going to kill him
push him down the stairs afterwards if
he's got one thing he sure as hell could
have another bitch we sure as hell
could have another blood take a
burning hot bath slow down one step
at a time what if there is a mistake
quilts i want to know who he wasn't safe
with i'm going to kill myself "this is
not really happening" yes gay i
love him with a blunt object he loves
me he's scared i'm going to kill him
hi mom why your face is turning red
i'm going to be a motivational speaker
lay in bedfor months bloody statis-
tics i'll tell the high school kids "don't.
think it can 't happen" dad lock the
doors sleep myself i'm scared
don 't run you come back burn
hate who kill stu-
pid push love me
no no no breathe
breathe die.
So maybe they're right. The test results,
were negative, but maybe the Red Cross is
right about the risk factor of my blood. It is
dangerous, indeed. Lake Winnipesaukee
and I face each other calmly now, but we
are communicating our common deep-
ness.
Those days that followed this entire
ordeal were not of celebration. We walked

back to my house together silently. The
UHS nurse also told us that chlamydia is
the most common sexually transmitted dis-
ease. She explained that it can be trans-
ferred even when condoms are used, even
when every protective measure is taken.'
So, in a way, Steven and I were lucky. And
this relieved us, but I was still haunted.
I had envisioned killing this person I
love. I thought of the chaos of bats that
spill out of their deep caverns at night,
where nobody can see what business they
are conducting in the dark. I considered the
intimacy of vampires, the way they pas-
sionately suck the life out of their prey, usu-
ally someone they love in some way. What
had I become? Those deadly thoughts I had
had were some of the most vivid ever, and
what would have happened if the ultimate
irony had been fulfilled? What if that damn
Red Cross nurse had her statistics proven?
Would I have broken? Would I have laid in
bed for a week, or would I have pushed
Steven down the stairs? Would I be in
prison right now?
There is beauty here. It's 6 a.m. and I've
been with this lake all night. The fog hangs
over the mists like a worthy promise; the
thickness is all there is, and the water qui-
etly reflects the pure brightness. The color
is all colors, and no colors at once. The
trees have made noises throughout the dark
breezes, as they do now; and I know as sure
as I see this day beginning, that it will also
end. My thoughtful motionlessness has
invited the chipmunks to regard me as a
stone, a small bush maybe. Several sur-
round me, and as I turn to see how many,
they are gone with a squeak and a scurry.
And the harmonies of these practicing
morning birds are reminding me to not
judge myself so harshly. The music echoes
off the lake, the lake that just a few days
ago was driven by the wind to leap out of
its borders and saturate the surrounding
lands. Oh, there is beauty here.
Which reminds me of my honesty. I did
not have to be honest with that Red Cross
nurse. I could have easily answered "no" to
the question about sex with a male,
because at the time I firmly believed I was
free of disease, and I have strong desires to
donate. They always need blood and I am
aware of this because they always called
me. Now I know, that in actuality, the orga-
nization depends on honesty. Granted, they
have extensive tests that should be able to

detect any problems that might exi
However, with window periods of dorma
cy, and the fact that nearly half the proce
of giving blood involves prying into
donor's personal life, this reliance on ho
esty becomes 'quite apparent. Lookin
inward, I, too, was banking my confiden
on allowing the benefit of the doubt.
trusted that the negative test results we
accurate. I trusted Steven and other peop
who in turn had trusted other people, an
so on, and so forth. But where and whe
can trust be trusted?
The problem that I have with the R<
Cross is that their question system seems
imply that because I made love with a mi
(as the Procedures book describes), I a
suddenly and statistically less trustworth
Thinking back to Steven's joke, how I
wanted to stir things up by claiming he ha
sex with the nurse's husband, I still laugh
his wit. But how does she know her partne
is entirely faithful to her? How does an;
one know?
The Red Cross does not ask a gener
question. They do not ask everyone: "hav
you had sex, even once, with your partne
while you were suspecting him or her to b
sexually involved with other people." Th
at least would be fair. Their questions an
pointed and targeted. They highligl
homosexual men, woman involved wit
bisexual men, anyone involved with inta
venous drug users, and anyone wh
received a blood transfusion before a cer
tain date. The impetus for these questior
may be partially due to statistical data. Bu
the lack of more general questions make
the assumption that heterosexuals withou
a drug addiction are, by nature, more trust
worthy and therefore, safer. I resent thi
assumption, and I ask why the Red Cros
does not trust itself. They do not trust thei
own tests, they do not trust their own sys
tem. For I was being honest, and now I ca
never give blood again.
Maybe I'm being a bit unfair too.
know that if I were in a serious accider
and needed blood, the Red Cross woul
deliver without discrimination, save th
fact that I could only take O-Negative
This organization plays a vital role in sav
ing lives, indeed. They must work hard t
ensure that the supply is clean and wil
not cause serious problems down th
road. I respect this. But I cannot undet
stand why my right to align myself wit

1 14 S . iv rsty atc urh 6 $"41

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