Breath & Shadow

A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature

Spring 2014

Volume 11 Issue 2



Breath and Shadow
  Spring 2014
Volume 11, Number 2

Mrs. Edelman by Susan M. Silver

When it became implicit that Daddy, Daddy with the deep-sea eyes and the embracing smile, would not leave the hospital, Mrs. Edelman approached me after school, almost pressing me against the façade of metal lockers, and told me I was coming home with her.  Slightly wall-eyed with disobedient curls the color of bittersweet chocolate, Esther Edelman cut an unusual figure among the faculty.  She was the storied taskmaster of the commercial department, where aspiring secretaries learned shorthand, typing, and a smattering of business-world grooming.  But she was a study in personal abandon, from the shirttail that hung over her pleated-skirt’s waistband to her habit of hankiless sniffling and her slouchy stance.  Despite a distracting air of smug self-satisfaction, a know-it-all nurturing a stash of secrets, hers was an aura of unmatched kindness. 

Click here to read Susan M. Silver’s short story

Bargain With God by Allegra Keys 

I made a bargain on the corner of Acceptance and Wisdom
When my body was wrapped in the supple arms of youth
But my mind was plagued by the choking grip of truth

My expiration date came with much ado at the age of two
Soon thereafter the thoughts of growing old fled my mind like migrating birds
Sitting on a porch with grandkids was something for everyone but me
I’d get weaker, bones, muscles, joints wasting away

I never asked why my feet would never touch the ground
Every doctor was amazed by the fact that I continued to breathe
But everything comes with a cost stamped on the packaging…

Click here to read Allegra Keys’ poem

The Raven by Michael Lockwood 

I have depression. Not your down in the dumps one day type of thing, but a grip you by the throat for months at a time version.

Anyway, it was around 10 a.m., a bit over a year ago, when, as I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping. Well, a phone call actually. But Poe's poem, The Raven, is relevant here, as I will explain.

Click here to read Michael Lockwood’s essay

Conversation With Frida Kahlo #3 by Lori-Ann Tessier

Frida I said,
you know how important it is
and by god or goddess
shouldn't some body parts
remain sacred?

Yours was ruined by that steel rod
It entered you and came out your chest.
Mine was ruined by a steel scalpel cutting me
right in the groin.

Click here to read Lori-Ann Tessier’s poem

The Grand Hoax by Day Al-Mohamed 

The first known insurance contract is from Genoa in 1347.  And since that time, the insurance industry has grown and developed a variety of premiums, products, and processes for assessing life, and risks, and putting a value on them.  In the 21st century, an insurance company created the first online “game” to let people look at factors that impacted their longevity, and less than thirty years later, Northern River Mutual created the first cell phone application for Predictive Human Lifetime Assessment, or as it was more commonly known, the “Lifeline” test.  With only a simple questionnaire, a fun game-like interface, access to a few databases of on you, your family, your finances, medical information, genetics, and a few minutes of computations, the app would calculate your longevity.  Since ancient times, gypsies and mystics, psychics and palmists have claimed such arcane knowledge.  Now we could do it technologically; we take into account potential genetic flaws, socioeconomic concerns, and analyze lifestyles for risk; all from the palm of your hand.  Perhaps it wasn’t so different from those gypsy palm readers after all.

Click here to read Day Al-Mohamed’s short story

Dog Years, For Sylvia Plath by Abigail Astor

Is my life to be
like that of a dog
where every one year
equals seven?

The commercial shows
a fast forward montage
starting with puppyhood
and ending with that last arthritic step…

Click here to read Abigail Astor’s poems

Randy and the Mighty Quinn by Patti Rutka

Velvet emerald moss layered the Rim Junction trail in Evans Notch at the Maine and New Hampshire border. Golden shafts of light wound through the velvet like a ribbon. My eyes took in the beauty, but my left knee complained like the Tin Man squeaking for more oil as I slogged on. The seven and a half mile hike up Burnt Mill Brook, a tributary to the Wild River, was hard enough for me; how on earth would it be possible for the blind Randy Pierce and his dog Mighty Quinn? And yet, they were hiking the forty-eight 4000-footers in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

Click here to read Patti Rutka's article

The Nature Look by Bruce Ario

The bend of the willow tree is very erotic
Especially in the wind as today
I am only a substitute…

Click here to read Bruce Ario’s poem

Raspberries by Raymond Luczak 

I like picking raspberries because they taste good, and it’s a fun thing to do on a summer day. Today Mom and Dad are food shopping. Then they will bring Grandma home from the hospital. She had a car accident, and now she can’t walk anymore. I visited her almost every day, but today’s special, because she’s coming home.

Click here to read Raymond Luczak’s short story

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