|Cawthra Square||Toronto AIDS Memorial||
since 1 December 1992
Morning through a city garden widens its swatch. Shiny eyes of cinquefoil, azure eyes of myositis, bruised lobelia refuse to blink. Intruders trapped in the cross-stare harden, crumble into fine dustings because our sympathies will not adapt to sun and cinquefoil: our world steel and concrete, oil and song.
We hoist our lives high over the drone of traffic and screwing gulls, hoist bags of soil to terraces at the setbacks; set out cinquefoil, watch its leavings, count its days. Some days we doze in the sun and dream we too are cinquefoil or lobelia, blowing and blanching without demur. Then pneumocystis breaks.
We open our eyes to that skyline we incised and know as a jet cuts through cloud that cities are our gardens, with their stench and contagion and rage, our memory, our sepals that will not endure these waves of dying friends without a cry.
1944 – 1991
Circles of Stones:
To Those Unnamed
We stand at this place; among earth and stone, branch and birch -
In darkness and in light, through sun and storm, rain and trees, leaves and breeze: Life and Death.
Our strength, though withered and sapped, regenerates here.
Each name on each standing stone remarks thousandfold upon those unmarked from sea to sea; pole to pole.
The earth would quake with the strength of our memories, flood with the loss of our tears, and in tandem; We exist.
How tall will these stones have to grow?
How wide, how all-encompassing, how awesome?
To announce this radical interruption of humanity.
These standing stones might sprout like high-rises, watered by lovers left behind.
Further stones planted, the last meets the first; A circle is formed.
Its volume gains inhabitants; Admitting entrance without discrimination.
The world mourns while we embrace the lives and the times.
Whether a name is engraved in steel or in sand, in heart or in mind;
In flesh or in form; we will remember.
And mark the day we have no further need for such Circles of Stones.
Shoshanna Jey Addley
Grief remembrance celebration
The AIDS Memorial is a communal place for grief, healing, and remembering. It counters the silencing and denial, the isolation and rejection, that so often marks the experience of people living with HIV and AIDS. The universal remembrance plaque installed in June of 1995 recognizes those unnamed.
Naming names humanizes the massive losses in a way that statistics can never achieve.
Michael Lynch founded the AIDS Memorial Committee in 1987. By June of 1988 the committee mounted approximately 200 names on a contemporary Memorial on Pride Day. Construction of the permanent AIDS Memorial began in 1992 after a design competition with 62 entries. Patrick Fahn’s design provides a sense of intimacy and privacy ideal for viewing the names on the steel plates. It incorporates the pillars as a backdrop for the triangular stage used for public gatherings.
Families, friends, and lovers are invited to request that the name of a loved one be added. New names are engraved once a year, and read aloud at the AIDS Candlelight Vigil.
The AIDS Memorial and the AIDS Candlelight Vigil are supported by charitable donations.
Volunteers and staff at The 519 Church Street Community Centre administer the AIDS Memorial and tend the garden. Drop in to the centre for more information.