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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 23: 28 April 2024
Prose Poem: 242 words
By Marcus Elman

Fortune Teller


When M was 28, she asked a fortune teller about her death. The soothsayer threw back her headscarf, looked deep into M’s left eye, appeared to curse in some unknown language, then crowed that her death would come choking by way of her lungs.

Thirty years later—wham! Double pneumonia! For a couple of days M saw that psychic dancing above the hospital as if she was being called out. In a midnight sweat, in her astral body, M, my Doña, removed her IV and oxygen mask; put on her jungle Mara, her Louboutin heels; wet her lips with vermeil lipstick; and stood up, her strong backbone bare, her lumbar curve stalking her hips. She looked down at her hospital body, whose lungs were drowning, hardening like cement; then cracked her neck.

They met on the hospital roof, clapped, spat, beat the floor flamenco for hours until the fortune teller lowered her eyes, bowed her head, fell to her knees breathless. So slowly she raised herself, tugged on her ruffled bata de cola, threw her train behind her, stood proud a moment, then began a cante jondo adagio—clicking castanets, swaying like a chestnut tree, drilling her feet into the hospital roof as my Doña sat erect, nodding her head, her knuckles beating out the rhythm. The sibyl neared, fixed her gaze precisely into my Doña’s left eye, locked into her iris del duende, and blinked twice—the curse removed.

Marcus Elman
Issue 23 (April 2024)

is a yoga and fitness therapist working mostly with the elder-sage population in Southern California. He is curious about energy, how things work and get repaired, and the idea of redemption. His poem “The Boulevards of Los Angeles” received an honorable mention in Beyond Baroque’s 2017 annual poetry prize and was published in the textbook Method & Mystery: A Research-Based Guide to Teaching Poetry (The Poetry Salon, 2019). “The Crossing” was shortlisted for the Into The Void Poetry Prize 2020. His poems have been published in Cultural Daily [see links below], and in three volumes of Sunbeams: The Joan Ramseyer Memorial Poetry Anthology (2018, 2019, and 2020). He is a graduate of American River College, UC Davis, and Pepperdine.

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