Breath & Shadow
Spring 2014 - Vol. 11, Issue 2
I like picking raspberries. 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.
Picking raspberries makes my fingers red, and then I have to lick them all over, like my dog Fuzzy. But he don’t like to get near the raspberries in Grandpa’s yard because of the thorns. He just sits in the shade, panting from the heat and watching me from the other side of the fence.
"Randy and the Mighty Quinn: A Blind Man and his Dog Hike the White Mountains"
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. If you’ve done any hiking, and in that area of the world, you know it’s challenging terrain. But blind and with a dog? A person must have the heart of a warrior to undertake such a Herculean task.
"Dog Years" and "For Sylvia Plath"
Is my life to be
like that of a dog
where every one year
The commercial shows
a fast forward montage
starting with puppyhood
and ending with that last arthritic step...
"The Grand Hoax"
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.
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.
It was the rehab person from my work. A delightful person whose role in life is to help people on long term leave make their way back into the workforce, or off the payroll if return is not possible.
"Bargain With God"
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
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.