Issue Forty-Four - Summer 2024

After the Diagnosis

By Gayle Kaune

It was way past lunch time.
The husband pulled everyone
to the hospital cafeteria.“Cheap. Fast.”
stated the daughter.
So they went to a dim restaurant
and drank pomegranate martinis,
perhaps in celebration,
perhaps, despair.

The kindness of alcohol and candles,
flickering midday, the woman thought,
maybe I should spend these final years deep
in a convent, a humming like bees everywhere.

Her daughter displayed her valiant orthodontured
smile. The woman had spent years driving her children
to the dentist, handing over a visa to the payment
plans, her life would be like that now —
endless appointments until everything was due.

The next day, she hiked an old growth forest,
two miles, four miles, it didn’t matter.
Nothing mattered now except what was exactly
before her: this moss, that painting over her bed with its plush
night sky
— she’d bought the painting from a handsome
artist in the market in front of La Famila de Segrada —
how her companions urged her to hurry up and get in line
as if they were looking at his art and thinking,
‘Nothing is beautiful here.’

And why does this diagnosis make everything beautiful?
She finally realized life is a memory palace. Open each
door one by one, let the mystery touch her body,
let the past speak in tongues.

Copyright 2024 Kaune