Breath & Shadow
A Journal of Disability Culture and LiteratureSummer 2015
Breath and Shadow
Volume 12, Number 3
The Other Side by Larry Schreiber
From the east window of my living room, I can see Lobo Peak.
My home is in a valley, in San Cristobal, New Mexico. I’m surrounded by mountains. I know all their names: Pueblo Peak, El Salto, Lobo; to the west, San Antonio and Ute; southwest, Picuris Peak, Truchas and Jemez. Sometimes, up in the mountains, I can just about make out Georgia O’Keefe’s Pedernal.
Names are important. Naming anything brings it closer, as if it’s a secret you’ve found out. Like naming a disease. Does naming it bring it closer? Do you then become the disease? Are you still the same person, but in a new geography? As a doctor, I’m always looking for the name—could it be idiopathic Parkinson's? Or, Parkinson’s-like symptoms, caused by a stroke or head trauma?
Three Tanka by Sergio Ortiz
is your native land?
dipped in mud,
my head covered
with the thin blanket of poverty
Auditorium by Jordan Johnson
The room was uncomfortably warm and humid, the way rooms full of people seem to get. I sat before them all, bright beams from the stage lighting only adding to the heat and discomfort of this place. The rows of people in studio seating combined with the hot, moist air made me feel like I was gazing into the maw of some unnaturally large beast, and for an instant, I understood why the fear of death is second only to the fear of public speaking. The glass eyes of the small legion of cameras only added to my discomfort, and I could see even the members of the crew were reflecting the eager looks of the crowd.
Row upon row of silent people watched me as I stared back from the plush leather of the chair next to the host. With all of those eyes watching me, I felt paralyzed, and I jumped when the man who introduced me to the crowd before the break touched my shoulder.
“You okay?” He said quietly, but we both knew the microphones on the collars of our shirts caught it perfectly.
Diabetes versus Mom’s Brownies by Ruth Z. Deming
No, it's not in the family
no, I'm not overweight
no, I don't drink soda or eat Tastykakes.
It was the lithium that did it
ruined my kidneys
those impeccable filters
that keep our insides clean
Blind Eyes by Nancy Scott
1.Sandy got her first artificial eyes as an infant. She grew so fast that every few months she'd get new ones in the mail. Imagine hearing your mother say, "Your eyes are here."
2.I was told the woman who lived downtown had several pairs and she liked to wear one each of different colors to see if sighted people noticed.
3. In a chat room, I heard about the Social Services person who needed verification of this guy's blindness. He popped out his eyes and asked, "Will this do?" It did.
Chasing Grief by Ann Chiapetta
Fear catches my
heart like Fleece on thorns
Delicate wisps of hope helplessly snagged
Upon Sharpened, wicked little prongs of fate.
I want to pluck the tufts, rescue
Them from the brambles
Ask the fragrant meadow breeze to deflect the pain, the sorrow.
Valentine by E. A. Lawrence
The dog follows me. I can't explain why, I don't really know. I see him hulking along behind me from the corner of my eye. Sometimes I just see a shadow flitting along the ground. I try to tell myself it's not him; it's just a squirrel or a possum. The only problem is that I've never seen a squirrel or a possum shaped quite like that, all huge with a hump and long stiletto legs with a fluffy tail.
I know his name is Valentine. He told me so one day. I was sitting, waiting for the G-28 bus; it was running the usual ten minutes late. Then I felt the paw, his paw, thump my right shoulder. My ear hairs, the really tiny ones like white downy fuzz, all stood so tight on end it hurt. His breath rasped against my skin just when I thought that ear couldn't get any more hot and uncomfortable.
No Longer Need I Be Afraid, A Thousand Hertz by Lee Todd Lacks
Tiny black blot on the horizon
I saw it coming
For years, I've been waiting, when
there was nothing left to fear.
No longer need I be afraid.
In a dimly-lit office,
outside of town, after hours,
the usual examination, the grim prognosis; this thin thread's breaking from a twenty-year weight.
I Remember by Debbie Johnson
I remember jumping rope, including
double jumps and 'hot peppers' at recess when I was in elementary
school. I can still feel the exhilaration of jumping the longest or
the fastest, and the occasional embarrassment at tripping over my own
Longing By Tony Caterina
She lived in the apartment most of her adult life. Memories that had been forgotten waited to be thought of again there in the one bedroom, third floor dwelling. She would occasionally stumble across something that would invoke the past, bringing a picture to her mind and a smile. Thoughts of happier times when the apartment was full of life, when memories were being made, when there was laughter and when there was love, were distant. The one bedroom collected dust as she moved about slowly and alone. With the passing of her spouse, solitude was the only answer. It was there in the morning upon waking and it was there in the evening when the lights were turned off. It was not an easy existence, as anyone who has been alone knows. It was there, the call, the sadness, the longing.