The Path of Totality

The day after the biopsy, bruise across her breast the shape and color of a crimson maple tree (which you aren’t allowed to plant outside the city anymore, the way it takes over), she reads about the coming total eclipse, the first time in ninety-nine years, the last for another eight, how a seventy mile ribbon from Oregon to South Carolina will be cold and dark, crowded with stargazers. She looks at projection and pictures, graphs of the moon transfigured from white disc to covered to yellow to berry red. A raspberry, the radiologist had said, of the blood clot that developed during the procedure. The nurse named Katie who pushed down on the incision site. It’ll take longer than usual, she said, leaning into the bruise to force it out. Katie has three daughters. The eclipse will only last two minutes and forty seconds and it isn’t about science, the article says. It is about beauty.

Callista Buchen is the author of Look Look Look (Black Lawrence Press, 2019) and the chapbooks Double-Mouthed (dancing girl press, 2016) and The Bloody Planet (Black Lawrence Press, 2015). Her work appears in Harpur Palate, Puerto del Sol, Fourteen Hills, and many other journals, and she is the winner of DIAGRAM’s essay contest. She teaches at Franklin College in Indiana, where she directs the visiting writers reading series and advises the student literary journal.

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