Breath & Shadow
Spring 2022 - Vol. 19, Issue 2
"Beginnings and Endings"
Fay L. Loomis
My foot slips out from under me when I stand. Is there something on the bottom of my shoe? I sit back down, examine the sole. Nothing. Stand, foot slides away again. Panic seeps into my brain. A stroke?
Friends check me into ER, offer to keep vigil in the lobby. I know it will be a long wait. Precise knowledge comes from previous hospitalizations: three heart stents and a heart attack.
"Danny The Clock"
Danny thought of himself as an accurate timepiece. He liked to think of himself as a stopwatch. As he did not have many options in the way of career choices, and felt compelled to do something, or be someone, timekeeping seemed a doable sort of work.
Danny couldn’t admit to himself, or to anyone else, that he was unemployable. He wouldn’t allow it. He didn't want to spread a lie. Who knows, he might recover one day, and find a job. But mum’s the word. He wasn’t letting on that he had plans of any kind
"Five Engaging Books that Elucidate the Celiac Experience"
I’ve always found reading to be a wonderful outlet,and have read voraciously since I was a kid growing up in the ‘90s. Back then about every two weeks my mom would take me to the library, where I often gathered so many books I’d stagger out the door using my chin to stabilize the top of my tall pile. My Hanson brother bowl cut would blow in the breeze while my mom held onto any spillover.
To this day, I still love curling up with a good book. Though friends and family were wonderfully supportive when I was first diagnosed with Celiac, there’s still nothing quite like connecting with someone who understands your experience firsthand. These five authors do—whether it’s the occasional burnout at having to constantly explain and advocate for your needs, or the feelings of FOMO when at a gathering watching everyone feast on glutenous food.
"I Am Pirli, You Are Oona"
I am Pirli. You are Oona.
Do not let the rippling of my parasol disturb you. It is large, but I am very old. I’ve been to many worlds and classified many beings, but few comprehend Pirli. Oona, I do not understand what this orifice is for, or why you have more than one. I have only one. Here it is below my resonance filter vat, which I use to catch and sort knowledge. I realize you do not understand me. How could you, with no filter vat? I suspect you have a filter analog, beneath this squishy shell. The pulses, waves and tones surrounding us are my language, and my hope is that if I describe what I am doing you will recognize something as communication. Let’s start with this porous layer. It is too soft to be of any use, and I cannot perceive what lies beneath it. I’m just going to peel it back. Hmm. It is quite firmly attached. I will need to begin again.
"Let Not the Forest In"
If you must walk through the forest,
Be fleet and vigilant.
Do not make any stops for rest
Or sudden movements revealing
If you hear rustling in the underbrush
Be it animal or anamorphic plant,
Avoid all eye contact.
Pin your gaze to your scuffed shoes
Mercury Marvin Sunderland
“Are you remembering to eat well?”
Julius looked at the ashtray on his desk. He’d forgotten to throw last night’s roach away.
“I just ate dinner,” he replied.
His mom sighed loudly.
“WHAT?!” he rebutted. “I don’t call you asking for every tiny detail of your private life.”
“I’m your mom,” she growled. “And, besides, I know you’ve been skipping meals.”
“UGH. MOM. NOT THIS CONVERSATION AGAIN. I’m eating fine. Sometimes I just forget to eat. It happens.”
The Mercedes convertible, top-down in the Sunday morning, Summer heat, pulled into a parking space reserved for "Leadership", in front of a church called "Thorns". The twentysomething from Christian central casting had gushed to me on the way about Thorns' involvement in local charities, communities, etc. She quoted from two Emerging Church authors of the '90's; a time she couldn't have remembered.
"You're going to get so much out of the Word here! I'm so excited about where God is going to take you!"
As a Queer, Mad, and often homeless individual, I wasn't sure how to respond to her enthusiasm.
"Swimming Out of The Competence Trap"
I no longer count my laps or watch the clock when I swim. This is a pretty new development--for ages, I wanted to think of myself as an adaptive athlete, which essentially boiled down to pushing myself to be as “good for a disabled person” as I could be.
I may be disabled, the thinking went, and I may not be able to run or jump or do any kind of land-based exercise, but swimming can be my thing, my exercise. I can be a Swimmer.
The disappearing is gentle, at first
A forgotten name, a missed appointment
Then a trickle of problems with focus
But the core, the essence holds true.
The erosion feeds on itself, cutting away
Remembered passwords and directions
And backfilling with panic and fear
But the love, the caring stays firm
"This Coyote Year"
My dear friend, do you remember
Whether it was Solstice or Samhain
That we saw the coyote?
We were back in the willows
People passing feet away
But we were in another world
Giving thanks for this one
She approached us on her hidden trail
Paused at arm’s length
Met our eyes. Walked away.
And we were blessed.
Michael Robinson Morris
The drive was familiar. The same L.A. traffic. My mom in the passenger seat, chatting away, not cheerfully, but gravely, as if to warn me about the many dangers and bad people we meet in life. Still imparting motherly advice when I was well beyond the wide-eyed youth of my childhood. Yet I still was naive to her imagined world, still only playing the role of the adult in command, the one you pretend to be when the last of your two parents is failing you.
"Waugoshance Light House"
On a flat slate grey rock,
sixteen miles off land,
stands a crumbling relic.
Her blue / white prism light,
has protected ships from the shoals.
Built strong ,
with iron rods encased in bricks,
under sheeting of grey steel,
"Where were Forbes and Snipe?"
Super Bowl LVI played out in my favor. As a diehard Detroit Lions fan, I was rooting for Matthew Stafford (the Lions’ former quarterback) and the Los Angeles Rams. There were times when the game was worrisome, but I had faith that Stafford would pull it off, and he did. The Rams won, 23-20, and Matthew Stafford finally got a Super Bowl ring.
But as much as the game itself, I was really looking forward to the halftime show this year. About two weeks before the big game, friends on Facebook began sharing articles and memes about deaf rappers Sean Forbes and Warren Snipe, who were set to perform in the Super Bowl halftime show alongside Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Eminem.