Nonfiction from Kate Gehan

Photo: Brett Jordan

The Small Sorrow of This Magnificent Body

Last year I held out my prism when the Target cashier asked how I was, if it was still raining outside. The color spectrum fanned across the carton of milk on the belt, then bled all over the apples, the broccoli, the vitamins to keep my nails strong, and in this way, I didn’t have to say I cried on the drive over through a drizzle. What a mercy, to pull the cool glass from my pocket and open my palm aloft so the store lights could tease out weak purples and blues to say it for me: I was too old for the baby inside me and it was both there and also barely detectable, which was to say I had a puzzle with no acceptable solution.

The prism didn’t trick like my voice would have—it simply emanated the depth of fact, and the cashier and I packed milk and cereal into reusable bags with the solemnity required. We agreed that in the space between blue and violet, wickedness shifts to kindness only to flicker back again.

I wrote a lot of poems about daffodils when I was ten and my mother said I overused the word JOY to describe them, so I crossed joy out. But I have since learned daffodils are not fussy about soil and they trumpet the heat blazing in my core with mellifluous grace. When I slipped the empty shopping cart into the parking lot rack after unloading my bags, I pointed at a joyous clutch of arrogant flowers beneath a fir tree and said aloud: This too, the surprise of possibility.


Kate Gehan’s debut short story collection, The Girl and The Fox Pirate, was published by Mojave River Press in 2018. Her writing has appeared in McSweeny’s Internet Tendency, Literary Mama, The Stockholm Review, Sundog Lit, Split Lip Magazine, People Holding, WhiskeyPaper, After the Pause, Cheap Pop, and others. She is nonfiction editor at Pithead Chapel. Say hello @StateofKate and find her work at

1 Comment

  1. […] “The Small Sorrow of this Magnificent Body,” Atlas and Alice (May, 2020 Special Issue: Global Pandemic X The Thing I Took for Granted) […]

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