In linked pieces Patti Smith tells the story of a man on a journey to see the Southern Cross, who is reflecting on his life and fighting the illness that is consuming him. Metaphoric and dreamy, this tale of transformation arises from Smith's knowledge of Mapplethorpe as a young man and as a mature artist, his close relationship with his patron and friend, Sam Wagstaff, and his years surviving AIDS and his ascent into death. Rich in detail, it is filled with references to Mapplethorpe's work and shows the man beneath the persona. Set against photographs by Mapplethorpe, the work emerges as a hymn, a prayer, a fable wishing him Godspeed on his latest journey.
"She was once our savage Rimbaud, but suffering has turned her into our St. John of the Cross, a mystic full of compassion."--Edmund White