“Diagnosis HIV” by Cortney Davis

Cortney Davis, RN, MA, ANP


I don’t know why I always say
what I think she wants me to say
when she asks if this infection—
these sores, these lesions, this bad prognosis—
is the result of love she made
with the man now her husband
or could it have been another man
and does this infection prove
that she is bad, something she’s
suspected all along,
or maybe it was just bad luck
or could it be, she asks me, punishment
for the way she beat her children
telling them shut up, shut up,
and wouldn’t it be better, she asks
if she herself was never born,
her own mother on the streets
like a forecast of her life?—
but then she says, Still,
I want to live; I’ve learned my lesson,
and isn’t my whole life about to change?

and every time she asks
I always say
Yes, yes, I’m absolutely sure it will.

from Rattle #28, Winter 2007
Tribute to Nurses

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