Breath & Shadow

A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature

Fall 2015

Volume 12 Issue 4



Part-Time Sclerotic Destruction

By Kate Holly-Clark

Part-Time Sclerotic Destruction

The day my doctor said
"we'll fight through this thing with you"
I stared at her
like she had lost her
last marble
because really,
I could not picture
her in gambeson and maille
by ll bean,
falchion by vera wang--
I already felt
like I'd started
the stupid world war doughboy slog
trenches dug
across my flesh
barbed wire unspooled
down my spine
the communications lines
had already been cut
by the time it left
my brain
the munitions teams had been and gone, hours ago--
leaving jagged and sparking telegraph lines
the spinal tap
jerking my leg like an electrocuted frog--

You can't even see the
enemy from here,
I wanted to yell.
It's already gone to ground
in the genome,
popping out to gnaw
randomly on another nerve sheath
running back into hiding.

I'm left with a semaphore system
of boyscouts and drunks,
I wanted to tell her
they're not very good
even if they usually get the general idea--

"Was that...foot?"
"Why would she swallow a foot,
you worthless maggot, that's
too late
NO, COUGH is not spelled

Really, I already knew this one was gonna be a war
of attrition
despising the idiot
who decided to
call an incurable autoimmune disease
a fight--

what happens if you die?
you didn't fight hard enough?  Victim of poor tactics?
Weak defense?  Not enough M-16's?

I nod like a good patient
can't risk the label of
noncompliant--like any POW, I already know
what NOT to say
"right", I say.
"We'll fight this thing."

and hope that I've hid the
most important wires deep enough
from guerrilla saboteurs

Kate Holly-Clark is disabled, an artist and poet living in NH with two cats, a dog, and her husband in a 125-year-old farmhouse.

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