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Breath & Shadow

Winter 2009 - Vol. 6, Issue 1

"A Note From My Mother" and "Waiting For Word: On My Mother's Heart Attack"

Written By

Stephanie De Haven

Your birth was the birth of an idea born squirming

and red--but silent--with hair like blood in water and brass

attitudes. My sweet child, who I pushed into this world wet and

precious--my red pearl--I know you...

"Consumers: An Opinion"

Written By

Julie Greene

Political correctness has swept the field of medicine from dermatology to pediatrics, and certainly psychiatry has had its share of terminology-laundering. As a mental patient, I face the PC question on a daily basis: "Loony-bin," "funny farm," and "nut case" are out, for obvious reasons, but some very, very sensitive people, with an eye for anything offensive, have declared that "mental patient" and "mentally ill" are out as well; the words are ugly and shameful. These folks think they're doing us a favor by inventing another, more pleasant word for what we really are: "Consumers."


"Consumer" is a euphemism, and because of this, the user of the term is implying that our illness is of minimal importance; instead, our role in the economics of medicine is of more concern. But let's face it: "Consumer" has nothing to do with mental health.

"Fiddling With Pain"

Written By

Joyce Frohn

The fiddler rosins up his bow,

long fingers curl around a block of blood

He plays a scale upon my nerves...

"MRI Followup"

Written By

Natalie E. Illum

The jewelry I knew

to remove in advance. The crutches

too reactive to enter. Better to bring

the stretcher out here...

"Moon's Advantage"

Written By

Laura Aranda

The moon's romantic glow

Illuminates the lake's ripples...

"Radioactive", "Rivers of Steel", and "As If They Were Real"

Written By

Steven Michael Graham

It was just a friendly hug

and yet...

her arms, around me, were warm as a sunbeam

and nearly as soft...


Written By

Erin Lauridsen

The dance floor is alive and I am dazed. The music is loud enough to block out the subtle sounds that usually give shape to space, turning everyone into an amorphous and shifting landscape doused in bad eighties pop music. "This is great!" my three friends say, trying to describe the aged and the eccentric, the hip young graduate students next to the vintage novelists. We are undergraduates at a large industry conference for writers and we have been waiting all week to attend this party, speculating what might happen when the bitter rejected writers and the overworked and jaded publishers at this conference consume a few drinks.

"The Signing"

Written By

Penelope Friday

The nerves start the week before. This was a bad idea. What am I thinking of, putting myself up in front of people? Agreeing to talk to people when my social anxiety's been so bad for years that my neighbors are beginning to wonder if I'm a vampire, if I ever come out of the house. Maybe if I stay huddled up in bed, the curtains drawn, no one will remember that I'm supposed to be signing books tomorrow. Maybe we can all forget the whole thing and go back to how we were.

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