Breath & Shadow
Volume 17, Issue 2
"Happily Ever After, Every Now and Then: A Review"
“Disfigured” is part memoir, part history of fairy tales (which date back to Renaissance Italy) and part disability-studies primer on some of the dominant conceptions of disability throughout the years. Despite being chock-full, it is a tidy and accessible volume packed with thoughts from disability-studies scholars and contemporary activists. I learned a lot, especially about Wilhelm Grimm’s (of Brothers Grimm fame) and Hans Christian Andersen’s personal struggles with chronic illness which caused them to insert more disability in their tales than in previous versions.
I have difficulty sleeping nights
while the city slumbers
these old bones and damaged nerves
ache from a myriad of disabling hurts
so I sit in my bay window
ensconced in a warming quilt
enraptured by the glow of lights against the midnight sky
“How do we know we’re not throwing away the next Stephen Hawking?”
“What, you don’t think Stephen Hawking’s mother wouldn’t have chosen his health over his scientific achievements?” she said across the kitchen table to her husband. “You don’t think she’d rather her son could walk?”
“I think you’re misunderstanding this,” he said. “It’s not that Hawking would have turned out differently, it’s that there’d be no Stephen Hawking.”
“Okay, but who’s to say the person born instead wouldn’t have been just as brilliant but without being confined to a wheelchair?”
"No Reason To Get Excited"
In the morning at home, I’m upstairs medicating. I take a lot of pills, upwards of thirty per day, and each pill does its job, bringing my shaking and tingling, fatigue and pain more-or-less under control, but only cannabis stops the shaking and tingling and fatigue and pain, most of all the pain. I start every morning with THC and medicate as needed throughout the day. I don’t need much, not enough to get high, just enough to get still. I blow smoke, or consume an edible, and stop short of a buzz. Truly, Mary Jane is a medical savant. After five minutes with her, I stop shaking.
"Keep It Behind Your Teeth" and "Atlas"
swaddle it in heavy blankets,
tuck it in at night like a child.
without your love and care,
the poor dear will starve.
sometimes Fear paints the mind
with colours like crushed, powdered
--reds like the spill of blood,
greens like the harsh bite of lime--
"The Pigeons Paid In Dropped Feathers"
Emily Randolph Epstein
Across the street from The Bear and Bee where demi-gods drank and muses mused, and the Fates sat stitching and bitching over steaming cups of breakfast tea, there stood a park where a naiad played for pennies.
Troya set out her case and a plea for tips in front of a clogged fountain that had once been the crown jewel of the park and forced sound from the too-dead strings of her guitar. Most days she sat under the over grown trees, serenading the pigeons and the homeless and the occasional tourist who’d gotten lost and heard the music and came away with minds soothed. She sang songs no one cared to know anymore accept the old gods and their kin who lurked across the street at The Bear and Bee sipping macchiatos and lattes and micro-brewed beer.
I don’t know much about economics or geology, but I know that there’s a screaming tightness in my chest and that it’s been there for a week and that I don’t know if it’s there because I dug too deep or if I just couldn’t pay the price of upkeep for the kind of mining operation I was trying to run.
Each morning I have woken up, carefully wallpapered over the hole in my heart where you were tucked only a few days before, and gone about my day. By the time I finish my eight hours of Monday-through-Friday intensive outpatient therapy and come home, by the time I’ve curled up with my cat and surrounded myself with music and smoke, it’s rotted away to reveal the emptiness beneath.
I’ve lost friends before. There’s a toll to move through life when your brain is trying to kill you: people come and go, relationships break under the strain and crumble into the rushing rapids.
"The Taste of Salt"
I dismantle the ark board by board,
splinters wedged deep in my nail bed.
I drag nails loose, rust-black from water wear.
I set the pairs free. Swim.
They look back, pitied.
Forget the dove, burn the branch.
Damian J. Clay
I’m told, in business, the most important decisions are often made over dinner. This one holds the possibility of changing my life forever.
Vowel sounds from the conversation echo loudly around the room. The plain brick walls are as clean as polished gold. Only an original Sassoferrato interrupts their perfect rectangular symmetry. Were it not for this Madonna or the antique banquet table she solemnly looks down upon, one might think this was a wine cellar.
The truth is, it used to be.
"Making Every Word Count: A Review"
A collection of fifty word pieces of micro fiction ranging from the whimsical to the humanistic. Folktales and realistic pieces displaying both imaginative and critical events in spare and thoughtful expression are interspersed expertly in this creative collection by Bob Thurber.
"Pink Bleeds Red"
She cries out in anger
after years of pink repression,
softening her tongue
to coddle the precious ears
of those who called her shrill.
Muting herself with a silk scarf,
loosely disguised as an accessory
to her demure demeanour,
instead of a noose around her neck...