Breath & Shadow
Volume 14, Issue 4
"A Liturgy of the Hours"
Katherine M. Clarke
I’m awake early and lie curled on my side listening to NPR through earbuds on my iPhone. Snug under the polar blanket in the darkness, I'm happy not to get up yet. My hip complains of pain and my bladder reminds me about the ginger ale I drank late last evening. I ignore them both. When the dog comes around to stare at me with a slipper in his mouth, I play possum until he wanders off to curl up and wait at the foot of the bed.
Diane G. Martin
As she carefully positioned the long, tubular key in the fortified metal door and turned, the frozen tears slid off her glove and hit the cement landing, once more water. Pushing open the second, wooden door, she stamped her feet and wiped them on a strip of green, spiky, fake grass. Her leg was bruised where she had fallen, but that wasn’t the cause of the tears, of course. Dragging the ice-encrusted shopping cart behind her, she entered the foyer of her apartment in a fog of moisture and misted glasses, locking and closing the front doors.
“Hello, anybody home?” she shouted in an over-bright, artificially high tone.
“You’ve got to learn to deal, Sarah.”
You’ve got to learn to deal with the people who treat you like your triggers are nothing and your sensitivities are meaningless. You’ve got to learn to quiet your pain; tame your expression. You’ve got to learn to deal with the real world.
The people who say they love and support me, they tell me this the most. Forgive me for getting so comfortable with you that I express my sensitivities. Forgive me for pronouncing the word “misophonia”. Forgive me for speaking the word between my too-many apologies.
According to the DSM, it does not exist. My pain does not exist. All that is real, all that is understood, is others’ annoyance.
"Everything Red for The Queen"
Michael Lee Johnson
Everything is red
in the kingdom of the queen.
Matador hat with barnacles,
witch white hair to the shoulders,
tickling the breast...
"How I Feel About the Homeless"
The elevator doors open, and the second part of my trip into the city begins.
As I enter the central corridor of the Long Island Rail Road, I turn right, and my cane hits the first person sitting on the floor. I apologize because I hit a person with my cane and not a thing. The homeless person grumbles or says, “It's okay," or uses some obscenity. It is at this time that a discussion starts in my head: Why are they in my way when they can see better than me! At that moment, lost in thought, I walk past my left turn, and a homeless person who knows my route says, “You missed your turn." I mumble a thank you, and the discussion in my mind becomes a fair and balanced argument. Are the homeless friend or foe?
"Leaving for University"
Elaine G. Schwartz
There she stands
faded floral apron neatly tied
paring knife in her right hand
a yellow onion held firmly in the left
she peels it with great precision
golden skin falling to the kitchen counter
followed by layers of translucent flesh...
They smelled like
wine and sweat and freedom.
Five blurred heads huddle together
in the thick, tobacco filled air,
disheveled hair sticking to shining foreheads...
The view was impressive. Asymmetrical rows of leafless silver and white birch grew upward against the slope. Massive pines and brown spruce and green firs stood tall in the heavy thicket below that. Beyond lay harvested hayfields lined by stone walls. Farmhouses in the far distance, with large barns and connected woodsheds, partially blocked the horizon.
The late afternoon sun provided a soft yellow glow to a mid-December day. Breezes swayed the branches of the evergreens, giving motion to an otherwise still-life landscape. The Farmer's Almanac predicted a snowy winter, especially in the mountains. Either light rain or snow flurries were in the present forecast. So they say.
Frank didn't care.
I remember lying in the snow, trying to preserve each snowflake that landed gently on my nose, a soft, huge silence stretching through the forest. The cold blanket buried me, soon covering even the tips of my boots, sapping my strength as the towering trees collected white frosting. I should’ve left when I first heard the dragon growl—while I still had the power to return to the back porch where a bright light kept its vigil. But I didn’t want to leave my burrow. It seemed so peaceful among the trees, and I wanted to stay just a little while longer, escape the world for just another moment.
"Sweet Bones and Roses for Harmony" and "Living With Chronic Pain: Resurrection"
Normally nocturnal, she
Storms the morning like Normandy
Fueled with Bojangles chicken
Biscuit sweet tea and seasoned fries
She walks into Walmart with purpose…
"The Mechanisms of a Poet: Book review of Defense Mechanisms"
Erin M. Kelley
Poetry has a way of beautifully awakening the senses. It does so in a way that the writer becomes aware of what’s inside him or her. In turn, the reader can step into the writer’s world – free of any boundaries or pre-conceived notions – and perhaps even gain a new perspective.
New on The Bookshelf
Breath & Shadow
Part of our mission at Breath and Shadow is to promote the work of writers with disabilities. In this section, we highlight a few titles written by people who have contributed work to our journal.