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Breath & Shadow

Summer 2013 - Vol. 10, Issue 3

"Ten Days Later, I Tell Dad I’m Injured" and "Alone In The Apartment"

written by

Liz Whiteacre

"Ten Days Later, I Tell Dad I’m Injured" 


Dad fights with me when he arrives. At least,

as much as he can fight a daughter sleepy

from Hydrocodone and Valium, propped by pillows,

and bound by Ace bandages and Velcro

around the torso. His compassion keeps him

pulling punches. He wrestles with my logic—

my phone call delayed in light of the family’s pleasure,

their one vacation, the weak argument

that there was nothing they could have done

—and heartbreak: his first born did not call him

immediately for help—she didn’t want him.


It will take motherhood—feeling the simultaneous

ache of pride and anger at cultivated independence

—to burden the impulse rushed by heart beat

to gather up, kiss wounds, repair them.

Dad finally said quietly, yes, there were

some things he could have done, and then, as now,

I love him for his anger.



"Alone in the Apartment"


Hours after the trunk’s thud, engine’s turn-over

and worn tires’ crunch of gravel, twilight dims

the cramped kitchen. Kevin’s gone back to school

across state lines. Chores done, I aimlessly flip

the switch in the blue bathroom and filaments burst.

In weak darkness,

                               my eyes survey

freckled walls, follow the streetlight’s fractured

mosaic to the closet door. I stoop slowly to my knees,

root through towels, beauty bottles, and miscellaneous

cleaning supplies, until I find a cardboard light bulb box.

I prop my crutches against the sink: everyone would

scold me if they knew.


finally, on the toilet’s lid, I prop myself against

the towel rack, twisting in the new sixty-watt.

My legs shake. I grip the towel

still moist from Kevin’s morning shower.

I envy, for a moment, its intimate relationship

with his body, how it soaked water

from his flexed muscles while he scrubbed.

He won’t be back until next weekend.

                                                  My toe finds tile

and I stand, illuminating, finally, the moldy tile,

the shaggy yellow rug. Before readying for bed,

I lean on my crutches, eyeing his chin’s stubble

on the sink. I hesitate rinsing—instead,

I leave him on the porcelain’s lip.

Liz Whiteacre received her MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Her poems have appeared in Wordgathering, Disability Studies Quarterly, Disabled World, and other literary magazines. Her chapbook, Hit the Ground, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. She was awarded an Inglis House Poetry Award in 2010. Whiteacre currently lives in Indianapolis and teaches creative writing at Ball State University.

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