Breath & Shadow
Volume 18, Issue 2
"A Time of Poppies"
As we round the bend, Cole brushes my hand and points out the window. “Look, Paige.” An acre field that was green the last time I saw it—a week, week and a half ago?—has exploded into a frilly extravagance of poppies. I’m not prepared for the paisley quilt of red, white and pink. What a waste of God’s energy—He could put it to so much better use.
A web waves in the warm breeze,
caught between ancient wooden struts,
indefensible, beneath an empty seat.
It splays to breaking point;
fine-knit, like a fiber-glass veil;
delicate strength resisting air.
trust me when I say
we held so tight to that last vestige
of peace - it fled from our hands
like a bird set free
our fingers clenched into fists
at the loss of the only love
we’d ever known.
I sit quietly, the only sound is the hum of the Oxygen concentrator beside the bed. I gently hold Helen’s hand. Her hand is cool, soft to the touch. It rests limp in my hand. I study the hand veined with blue lines and wrinkles. I turn the hand palm up to trace the long life line extending past the wrist. The hand is rough with dry skin. I reach for hand cream and rub some into her palms.
"Necessary Discomfort: A Review of ‘Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories
From The 21 st Century’"
When I heard about activist Alice Wong’s anthology ‘Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories From The Twenty-First Century”, I knew it was something that should be reviewed in Breath and Shadow. After all, our primary mission is to help get the voices of writers with disabilities out into the world. And since I’d just finished ‘Talking to Strangers’ by Malcolm Gladwell, and generally like to keep a nonfiction book going at all times, I decided I’d be the one to review it.
I am always sure
that the world is ending.
And I’m always searching
my body for wounds,
that everything is dying,
that this gull
plunging toward the sea
is like me, determined
to die by falling
"Presenting Well: The Mental Health Catch-22"
Lindsey Morrison Grant
It's to my detriment and chagrin... and perhaps will even to be written upon my tombstone, "She presents well."
My early childhood trauma from numerous hospitalizations happened before I had the understanding, let alone the words to process the pain and terror. Instead, it triggered
combative tantrums in doctors' offices, in the hospital, at the smell of isopropyl alcohol or even the glimpse of white coats. That was my truth in the time of "Children should be seen and not heard." I wasn't heard, so I internalized the angst and created my own survivalist credo: You must not be sick. If you appear sick, you will be abandoned.
Susan M. Silver
Across a naked night, in waves of peace
And pain, your music returns, granite rhythm,
Haunting harmony and melody,
Peerless phrases unreplicable
Hugging the whole of myself, as in life.
I know she’s going to do it even before she does. I can tell by the way she zones in on my cane.
If my husband were here, he’d call her, “nosey” and tell her to bugger off.
I’m more tolerant. Most days.
Today isn’t like most days though. Today, I learned that my illness is getting worse, not better.
Mark A. Murphy
We have learned to dispense with the body in favor of our cerebral journeying to the collapsed star’s interior
beyond event horizon
and the natural laws of gravity, defying God and cosmic pendulum to discover the absolute at the center of being.
Susan Eve Haar
My Mom calls it Russianizing. And I’m thinking she must be Russian, because she’s so good at pretending and ignoring things. She says the rewriting of past history is something Russians are really good at. Like you get electrocuted so that your body smokes and your guts cave in, and they’ll say you’d passed away in your sleep. Passed is another fake word. Maybe when I go out it’s like passing, I sure am gone. Maybe there’s a place where I go, maybe all the epileptics hang together, the ones who’re having seizures in some kind of extraterrestrial chat room.
"Sometime Between Breakfast and Lunch"
My friends were irritated before we even entered Red Emma’s. They were shocked that the only viable entrance for us was through the side door (which was lined with bars). They continued to discuss this when we were seated. They were shocked about accessibility or lack thereof in their beloved city, as if it was outside the realm of possibility for disabled people to face segregation in 2019.
Thinking of what I would eventually have to order, I was tempted to order a drink, but there were only IPAs and wine on the menu. Rodlyn unsurprisingly ordered an IPA. From time to time, I would hope she noticed my anxiety.
"This Fading Flower"
J. Elliott Toren
While you stand over me, pausing in this dimly lit bar, I suddenly hold forever in the palm of my hand.
I see our future.
I hear your name: Miranda. I see the child we will have together. I see you taking your own life during postpartum depression. I see myself and our little girl, forging on alone.
I see your future without me. You wither and die like a flower in the cold, sooner even than had I not sent you away. But if I choose you, I choose happiness for you, even if only for a moment.