Diagnosis Inconclusive

Kirin Gupta - Ecuador

February 17, 2012

Elastic band

on pastel green


Gnarled hands

Torturing themselves

with nerves.


flutters above the wrinkles

ringing her eyes.


A feminine embarrassment,

At odds with

the story of the cracks and twists of these strong limbs.

So thin, yet knotted to tell a saga

of work without end.

Gently, I try, to push away

the smallest sections of her clothing,

that allows me to still examine effectively.

She mumbles her humiliation

but the pain overcomes

socialized reaction.


Small bulge of her stomach undulates unnaturally

under the prominent ridges of the ribcage.

Decades have been etched into this fragile skin, and her hair

tangles around her ears,

where knobby fingers can no longer reach with the comb.


I wonder how it is that

she has come alone.


I ask her of her children.

She shakes her head violently,

and pulls her too-pink dress over her knees

A sudden surge of strength.


“I’m sorry,” I try,


“They are all here,”

Twisted fingers wobble,

indicating wildly

every corner of the room.

“They are there, I –“

Head jerks upon this thin neck

Side to side,

Skin that sags, jumping with her racing pulse.


Fingertips tremble at the hem of her dress.

Her gray hair,

As she begins to still, glints silver in the jungle sun.


“Gone. Disappeared.”

The words come out like a moan.


“It’s okay. It’s okay. You’re here now. You’re here.”

I squeeze her shoulder.

Tuck the stringy knots of hair

Behind her twitching ear.


She moves into my touch, but

how she reacts

seems unfamiliar with the closeness.

Without a thought to my intention, I wrap both arms

around her.

She weighs less than a child.


“I am forgotten,”

A small skeleton, rocking in my embrace.


Case notes summarize,


“No physical aberration.

Patient’s symptoms inexplicable.

Rx: Medium-strength painkillers.

Diagnosis, inconclusive.”


The prescription

will lie useless

in an empty drawer

While lonely arms envelop her own thin frame.


Agony intangible,

Sometimes there is no cure.



Kirin Gupta