The Botswana government has designated March the Month of Youth Against HIV/AIDS. I often think, especially during this month, of the first generation of young adult Batswana who were born HIV positive. Now in their late teens and early twenties they are applying for educational grants, thinking about relationships and babies. They have never known life without a schedule of pills and check ups but they also live and love and work hard towards their dreams.
I volunteered as a peer counsellor briefly in my early twenties, and as a sometime workshop facilitator for youth interested in literature occasionally poetry workshops turn into life skills sessions. It's near impossible to live in Botswana and not know someone who is either infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. What clearer evidence of the leaps left to our humanity than that in reminding our selves what we do we do not always see which histories we ought never to repeat.
Today I'm thinking of J. Allyn Rosser's poem, Children's Children Speech
"What would we want our luckless heirs to say,/Now that we too globally see it will end - /The bees, the buds, the mercurial sea, the air/ All spoiled - that we made waste of miracles...Our mind's made up to stand behind, whatever/ We may do to bees, or seas, or air/ Empowering speech. We have a mind to write/ Our luckless heirs, but what's the use? They 'll call us//They. "They did this. We weren't even there."
Rosser writes "While I don't believe a poem is capable of converting anyone from reckless immorality to a moral viewpoint, I am convinced that poetry can deepen and recharge beliefs, even to the point of jump- starting us into further action."(The Best American poetry, 2010).