Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World AIDS Day - Conscientious Objector

Today is World AIDS Day. Back in 2005, the City of Plainfield held an AIDS Day observance on the steps of city hall. Mayor Al McWilliams, Pastor Jeanne Yurke, the Bayard Rustin Progressive Democrats, and other community people participated in the remembrance of friends, family members, and other loved ones who left us too soon. Part of the observance included a reading of the poem below. I hope that you will take a moment to remember those who suffer from AIDS, and, in the words of my friend Al Cunningham, with whom I will be sharing the official observance at Essex County College today, use WORLD AIDS DAY, December 1, to talk about someone who died of AIDS.

Conscientious Objector

I shall die, but
that is all that I shall do for Death.
I hear him leading his horse out of the stall;
I hear the clatter on the barn-floor.
He is in haste; he has business in Cuba,
business in the Balkans, many calls to make this morning.
But I will not hold the bridle
while he clinches the girth.
And he may mount by himself:
I will not give him a leg up.

Though he flick my shoulders with his whip,
I will not tell him which way the fox ran.
With his hoof on my breast, I will not tell him where
the black boy hides in the swamp.
I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death;
I am not on his pay-roll.

I will not tell him the whereabout of my friends
nor of my enemies either.
Though he promise me much,
I will not map him the route to any man's door.
Am I a spy in the land of the living,
that I should deliver men to Death?
Brother, the password and the plans of our city
are safe with me; never through me Shall you be overcome.

--Edna St. Vincent Millay

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