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Breath & Shadow

Fall 2021 - Vol. 18, Issue 4


written by

Tricia Johnson

There should be a better word
Something more descriptive
Tiredness that steals in mid-sip coffee and forces your head flat,

              on counter?
Tiredness that stops you in your tracks and screams
Sit NOW!
Lay down NOW!
If you don’t
I will force you by simply stopping, unmoving, unbending

It strikes so many ways, so many times

Mid-shower, mid-sentence, mid-walk


Cleaning, interrupting activity, for non-activity

There is no pushing through it
There is no way around

You are riding in a car and its weight slides in
and down your body
Your hands too heavy to knit
Your head too heavy to raise and no words or thoughts exist

It joins you for parties, mid-laugh, mid-thought

It glazes your eyes to a far off place
You visit more often than not

It is heavy, slow-motion drowning in fog
Trying to swim in jet black tar
That no one seems to feel but you
You are not air you are dense solid heavy
Wet clay earth stuck to the bottom of spring boots

Tricia Johnson is a former teacher and current poet.  She lives in the beautiful hills of Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons.  Tricia is eight years into living her life with a Lupus SLE diagnosis. She is hoping to share, through the written word, her journey with an autoimmune illness, letting others know they are not alone. Visit her website at

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