Untitled 2 (1)

1981 - 2021

To commemorate World AIDS Day, we partnered with community Elder Femme, Stef Knight, who explores collective grief as a result of COVID-19 in comparison to the collective grief our communities experienced losing loved ones to AIDS.

Untitled 2 (1)

1981 - 2021


To commemorate World AIDS Day, we partnered with community Elder Femme, Stef Knight, who explores collective grief as a result of COVID-19 in comparison to the collective grief our communities experienced losing loved ones to AIDS.


No matter the way the wind blows, 

they say you can smell death as it approaches.

Announcement or warning, 

herald or harbinger, 

it fills the air with its sacred scent.

How then do you smell it coming 

if that sense has been lost.

The beloved lay alone, tended by strangers,

their loved ones unable to breathe 

the same air as they do.

Final goodbyes are said on screens held by exhausted hands, but

how many times a day must they witness such private pain?

Another loss is added to the number that ticks 

across the bottom of the tv screen, we are all 

in our homes unable 

to look away or 

go outside.

 

We must remember those lost 

as more than numbers on a screen.

Ask us about loss, about how 

to make some sense of senseless loss.

 

Image on left: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong Image on right: Gideon Mendel


Every year my people come together.

We pin a red ribbon of remembrance to our chests,

we light candles, our memories wrapped in quilts. We

call all of you who are gone, to bless us 

with the presence of your glittering sin free souls. So 

that we can celebrate

the mythical memoirs you left us.

We are united because you have gone, your

untimely passing has made us stronger, as 

those who know what the loss of a whole generation can do.

Elders you have taken your stories with you, 

our history is lost within your now silent lips.

We felt guilt for surviving, we tried 

to join you, to hunt what took you

and make it part of ourselves, 

to feel closer 

to you once more. 

 

Now that this is no death sentence for most,

I embrace the second chance I’ve been given.

But for a few short years, it could have been 

yours too, that was not to be. So

 

I nuzzle the fear that has stalked us all, 

but you will know it no more.

Rabid storm clouds lash the sky outside 

a small square window in a plain white room.

I sob and the guttural movements in my throat 

make our bodies dance one last time. You lay 

lifeless in my arms, my tears run down your peacefilled face. 

Your spirit enters me, then passes

to the other side, our final embrace together as you leave.

Through the small square window 

a black and grey angel 

cloud floats then disappears 

to nothing. You are part of who I am,

in your memory I will make changes to 

honour the short life 

you lived.

 

I will always remember you as you were,

the brightest star in the room, the

whitest light on the darkest night, a

twinkling planet in the memories of my sky.

 

- Stef Knight, 2021

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