Turning 40 in the ’90s

April 1990

We promised to grow old together, our dream
since years ago when we began
to celebrate our common tenderness
and touch. So here we are:

Dry, ashy skin, falling hair, losing breath
at the top of the stairs, forgetting things.
Vials of Septra and AZT line the bedroom dresser
like a boy’s toy army poised for attack —
your red, my blue, and the casualties are real.

Now the dimming in your man’s eyes and mine.
Our bones ache as the muscles dissolve,
exposing the fragile gates of ribs, our last defense.
And we calculate pensions and premiums.
You are not yet forty-five, and I
not yet forty, but neither of us for long.

No senior discounts here, so we clip coupons
like squirrels in late November, foraging
each remaining month or week, day or hour.
We hold together against the throb and jab
of yet another bone from out of nowhere poking through.
You grip the walker and I hobble with a cane.
Two witnesses for our bent generation.

— Melvin Dixon

Melvin Dixon’s poems and fiction explored homophobia, racism, and the complexities of a life lived as an openly gay black man. Dixon’s partner, Richard Horovitz, died of complications from AIDS in 1991. Horovitz was 44 years old. Dixon died on October 26, 1992, also of complications from AIDS. He was 42 years old.