Gone Lawn
a journal of word-things
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Gone Lawn 50
buck moon, 2023

Featured artwork, Frank along the Cumbres and Toltec, by Kathleen Frank

new works

Judith Lysaker

The Assent

  1. She said yes.
    1. It was what you did when you were a young, aspiring musician at an elite music school in the mid-west, and the orchestra the next town over called you to play. You packed up your instrument and hit the road. Experience got you places.
    2. A deer ran out of the woods. The car was totaled. She and her cello, Ada, survived.
    3. First doctor. Diagnosis: Concussion. Treatment: Advil, brain rest.
  2. She said yes,
    1. took lots of Advil. She rested her brain: No screens; no phone, no computer.
    2. Still, she couldn’t keep the letters on the page from shifting their positions when she tried to read. Musical notation was worse, the circles and the stems lighting up and wiggling around; she didn’t even recognize the ones that had been her friends.
    3. Ada waited patiently.
    4. Second doctor. Diagnosis: Concussion and depression. Treatment: Advil, brain rest, and Wellbutrin.
  3. She said yes,
    1. though she felt herself slipping away.
    2. Her arms lay still too many hours, her muscles in decline.
    3. Ada lay still too many hours, her strings and body atrophying. Please, she said.
    4. They both suffered from the absence of reverberation.
    5. Third doctor, first neurologist. Diagnosis: It’s all in her head. She needs to get over it. Treatment: Get over it.
  4. She said yes,
    1. and took more antidepressants. She got herself rose-colored glasses to keep out the glare and soften the headaches. She carried a mayonnaise-sized jar of Advil in her purse.
    2. She pushed through.
    3. Ada said yes, her body resonant with hope.
    4. They went to New York City. It’s what you do when you are an aspiring musician from an elite music school in the Midwest.
    5. But the city had its own plans for her. Subways screeched, street noises assaulted, light never faded.
    6. Migraines flourished in their new environment. Her left leg became weak and uncooperative.
    7. Fourth doctor, second neurologist. Diagnosis: Brain injury, neurological damage, migraine syndrome. Treatment: Reduce stress, rest, prescription pain meds, Botox treatments to numb nerve endings in the brain. Use cane to prevent falls.
  5. She said yes,
    1. and went for monthly treatments where forty-six needles were inserted into her face. She wore sound cancelling headphones on subways and buses and got a mask and ear plugs to improve her sleep. She bought new and improved rose-colored glasses. She used a cane.
    2. Ada hardly recognized her.
    3. The two of them sat together alone in the dark reaching back to find each other.
    4. They play what she can remember, what she can find of the melodies that patterned her mind, what she can still feel in the reverberations of Ada’s body, in the traces of her fingerprints on Ada’s strings, her sound-cancelling headphones doing their job, with her cane propped against her chair.
  6. Ada screamed. No!

Judith Lysaker lives in Indiana where she can be found doing yoga, exploring her latest culinary obsession, or doting on her dog who eats cucumbers in the evening. She loves writing micros that slip and slide through genres.