Breath & Shadow
Volume 13, Issue 3
"Blinded by Communism: A Review"
A baby develops a bad fever. Despite the state’s claims of the best medical system in the world--free for all of its citizens--the baby’s parents can’t bring him to a doctor. They can’t pay. The baby grows into a disabled boy who is considered, like all disabled people, a burden. Other children tease him, taunt him, hit him, and their parents laugh. He is forbidden to attend school. Yet, he sits outside the local two-room school and listens to the lessons. Finally, at age seventeen, he is allowed to attend a special school for people like him, far away from his family’s village. The school is expensive, so he has little money for food. He starves. Teachers beat the students. Students who complain are beaten more or thrown out. After eight years, the boy, now a man, returns to his village.
calloused, cracked knuckles defend
against dawn's first flush
chipped nails trim grime-washed
palms, eager to work
tuck shirttail into too-big trousers, straighten frayed cuffs without sleeve-buttons;
hold open doors...
"One of Those Days"
There are days when getting out of bed makes my head hurt just thinking about it. You know those days. They are the days when every muscle in your body is screaming, telling you to keep your butt right where it is. The days when moving even the tiniest bit is like moving a dead body. Oh wait. That is my body.
I stand at the edge of the pool looking down at the clear, blue water. Five steps, thatʼs all it takes. Five steps and I will feel better. Aqua therapy pools are rare in Western New York. This one is perhaps rarest of all. It has a treadmill submerged in one corner. My son and I searched for weeks for one I felt safe entering. Stairs and ladders are difficult for me. We decided this one suits me best.
Ana Garza G'z
When he was younger he “gave music
lessons to a blind kid who could hear a piece and play it
exactly.” He tells me because I’m blind. I almost say
I had lessons too, an upright piano
and sheet music on my lap, hours of fingers scrabbling
over crisp paper, over keys, left hand, right hand, two
hands together, no ear
to save my life. He asks me how I spend my day...
Steps. Words in a sentence,letters in a word, number of lines in a paragraph. Floor tiles, ceiling lights, slats that make up a window blind.
I count. Anything and everything. Odd is better than even(always) except when I'm counting with my hands or feet -- then, the counting always has to start right and end left, which makes the number even. I think that has something to do with coming full circle, with closing an opening. But whatever it is, I usually tap out an extra, so there is an odd number to finish. Evens seem so very, very unlucky.
"This Body" and "Inheritance"
Hayley Mitchell Haugen
Where are your ears?
I ask my niece at fourteen months,
and she grasps them in a vice-grip of hands.
Her nose she finds easily
with one steady, sober finger,
and at night she brushes her six small teeth,
smiling at her mother, waiting for the praise
that follows this big event...
"Helping Granpa Eat"
Edward M. Turner
Rosemary fled the kitchen, ran through both the dining room and the living room past Grandpa watching TV, and out the screen door to the porch. The screen door hung open and slowly swung shut with a bang. Quiet descended as if invisible dust settled after the passing of a rogue summer windstorm.
There’s a meadow where sanity departs,
On a planet inside my heart,
A field inside my mind’s deep space,
Where lucidity is erased.
Tower-tall flowers and bus-sized bees.
The river is a current of electricity.
Blue butterflies have fangs and claws,
And blood dripping from their jaws...
"The Loose Palace of Exile"
John Thomas Allen (with thanks to Vicky)
How does one discern between a learning disorder like NVLD (non verbal learning disorder), which is rightfully characterized by experts like Byron Rourke and Pia Savage as a series of frustrating, often maladapting traits which should be addressed in early adolescence, and other disorders which are more pro social and adaptive to the environment society presents us with?