Breath & Shadow
Volume 14, Issue 3
"Left is Right, Right is Left"
Emma B. Aird
It’s the end of the day and I’m leaving campus. It’s raining, my feet hurt and I’m tired. I parked in a parking garage I haven’t parked in before, so I’m leaving campus in a different way. It shouldn’t be that different or even difficult. I’m taking the same basic route back home. It should be easy. I turn left onto Speedway Blvd. and head west, it’s not until I see Cherry Avenue that I realized I was actually heading east all along.
I’m confused and upset, because I knew that I was heading west. Even though I’m now aware I was going the wrong way, it doesn’t make sense to me. I know that west is the direction that I’m driving, but it’s not. It feels like the world has flipped itself just to mess with me. It’s beyond jarring. It’s more than just frustrating or upsetting. I feel like crying.
"From Ashes, Arise"
When life's wounds have become too great to heal on their own, God is a brutally efficient surgeon: the 1666 conflagration that destroyed London ended both the great plague and my precipitous plunge into debt. Unfortunately, cauterizing a wound is only the beginning.
"We're making good progress clearing the wreckage."
I held out my arm for Widow Connyingham to balance against as she stepped over a pile of loose debris. Around us, my hired laborers still worked to remove the remnants of what had once been a sturdy townhouse.
"The surveyor comes tomorrow."
"The Second to The Last Time", and Two Other Poems
when the moon was full and I wore my navy silk pants / and my car got stuck in your driveway and I read poems on your rug naked / the space heater warming my ass / and you said I was a cat in another life and I laughed because I knew I was really a dog / willing to be kicked and come back for more / and after the sex and the sounds we walked the mountain roads / snow and silence and darkness all around / we walked fast because my legs were cold / and I thought of a movie I’d seen of a woman wearing a silk dress leaning over a railing to wave goodbye to a lover / I wondered if I’d wave when you left / but I stood in the airport and watched you walk away / then I drove home and drank tequila mixed with almond milk because I was vegan and didn’t want to cheat
"How to Fall Well"
Pasquale S Toscano
On the penultimate day of inpatient rehabilitation, my physical therapist taught me how to fall—and then get back up. Falling was not in my estimation a skill that one “learned.” But I was told that when it happens, I’d need to do it the right way. Not if it happens, but when. “Because it will happen,” my therapist insisted. And it will happen to all of us, one way or another. I’ve indeed fallen no fewer than nine times since my accident. Yet I have emotionally fallen too, and I’ve been picked up again—by literature. Family and friends have, admittedly, helped as well (for which I’m immensely thankful). But it was literature that empowered me to make sense of my needs and communicate them to others.
"The Lucky One"
Click, click, click.
Click, click, click.
Here I sit and here I’ll stay.
Fastened to this chair until the end of days.
These words I made up to keep myself sane circle through my head each and every day as I sit in my black cube until I’m allowed to leave, escorted back to a cell where I stare at the ceiling and imagine what death must feel like and whether or not I should have taken that road when I had the chance. And now I’ll never know.
"Extraordinary Bodies is an Extraordinary Work: Book Review"
Rosemarie Garland Thomson’s Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature is a landmark work in the study of disability. In it, Thomson sensitively examines the ways disability has been interpreted in popular culture and literature.
In her preface to the book’s twentieth anniversary edition, Thomson reveals how the “seed for Extraordinary Bodies began to sprout in the late 1980s.” She notes that the book “was a latecomer to feminist literary studies and critical race studies, the academic movements from which it emerged.”
"The Right Fit"
Kristy I. Kassie
"Christ," Shawn beamed over a steaming Tim Hortons French vanilla, "did we really do the clothes and the haircut in an hour? “Thanks, babe."
Across from him at the food court booth, I savored a chocolate-glazed donut. "You're welcome. You're going to look great for your interview. Thanks for being so patient."
"I couldn't do it alone. Department stores are bloody confusing."
I replayed the past hour. Meeting Shawn at the mall entrance and weaving our way through the afternoon shoppers - most who either didn't see our white canes or chose to ignore them and ran into us anyway . Navigating to and through the Zellers men's department. Picking out black pants and a blue long-sleeved shirt plus matching tie. Hunting down directions to the fitting room, locating the checkout to pay, backtracking to Tip Top Tailors and charming the manager into tying the tie because neither we nor the Zellers clerk had a clue there.
"The Karma Bug"
Harriet woke up feeling slightly hungover, bleary from the after-effects of the bug that was going around. She reached over to her nightstand and flipped up the digital clock. 8AM. The arraignment had been set for 10AM. If she didn’t get moving, she was going to be late.
She hauled herself out of bed, slipped into a white silk blouse and gray skirt, and grabbed her make-up kit. A little lipstick could always be counted on to work wonders. There was nothing like a pout to distract a judge: the redder the better. She padded into the bathroom and gazed at her reflection in the mirror: brown hair that fell in soft waves to her shoulders, clear blue eyes, a pert nose. No mouth.
"The Song of the Rose"
In the golden hall, symphonic practice progressed. Master Cossoto, his white hair tied back revealing his famous, cavernous right ear, considered the orchestra.
He stroked his left ear, dainty and well-proportioned in juxtaposition to the right, and thoughtfully said to a question from the horn section, “Aim for silver, please.”
The trumpeters sighed in relief. Silver was far easier to achieve than gold.
"Letter to My Child"
when hearing people write lies on your skin in front of your eyes, listen, but don't look.
they will think you're not there, disappeared into your head again, but make yourself listen, and make yourself speak back. speak truths.
when they call you inspirational, listen. you are, but not in the way that they mean. figure it out for yourself, and then trace the patterns that run away from your ears and all the way down your throat, down your chest, down your stomach, trace them alone, by yourself, and realize you are inspirational, but not in the way that they mean.