Breath & Shadow

A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature


The Bookstore on the Mount
By Thomas Gagnon

The postcard I am pretending
to find fascinating
  is of the Virgin Mary,
  in Renaissance blue, with fleshly child.

  The Paulist bookstore's one customer,
  clad in formal blue and gray,
  quietly browses; I quietly
  envy him, in a vague, uncertain way
  that deadens my abdomen.

  I look at Christine, sitting
  gracefully on the gray steel stool
  across from the register, beneath the phone,
  objects skillfully controlled by
  her matter-of-fact touch and voice.
  Michael, my endlessly talkative supervisor,
  informs me that Christine is a dancer.

  I wished I were a dancer.
  Perhaps I would be as calmly
  coordinated as Christine.
  A useless wish--
  I am like rain clouds that insist on colliding.
  If I were coordinated,
  I would send the rain clouds
  in separate directions,
  silver light appearing between.

  While I put away the Virgin Mary,
  the one customer buys a book from Christine,
  and Michael, in pink polo shirt and blue jeans,
  strides in with a contented expression,
  as if walking on waters of amazing faith.
  Next, the Sermon on the Mount,
  where light appears from Christ--
unlike this Bookstore on the Mount
with exception to the rule
of deadening ennui--
radical Hans Kung theology.

Currently, Thomas Gagnon has bipolar disorder. In childhood, he had seizure disorder and mild speech disorder. Most of his life has been focused on recovery. Sometimes, this is reflected in his writing, and sometimes not. He wrote an essay for the GLBT newspaper "In Newsweekly" on a book by a gay theologian.

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