Poem 8 ± June 12, 2015

Steven Cordova
Does It Hurt to Have “It”? 

A few days into my last trip home
and my mother steadies her gaze
on whatever it is she has in hand—
a kitchen utensil, a balled-up tissue.

“Does it hurt to have it?” she sniffs,
“it” of course referring to that certain
latter-day deficiency of the immune
system which the rest of us toss off

with an acronym. In the moment,
however, I am foolish and I don’t realize
just how deep the questions cuts,
so I breathe my heaviest sigh

of big-city condescension and say,
“No, mother. Of course not.”
A few days into my last trip home
and if only I could convince my mother

I’m all right, then maybe, just this once,
I’d tell the woman the truth: confess to having
other things, things which hurt more. And maybe,
just this once, we’d get philosophical, my mother

and I, and we’d postulate that having survived survival,
we only get more survival to have to survive.

Steven #6Steven Cordova is the author of the poetry collection Long Distance (Bilingual University Press, 2010). He won the 2012 International Reginald Shepherd Memorial Poetry Prize and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

This poem originally appeared in Knockout Literary Magazine Issue 5, Fall 2014.