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Breath & Shadow

Winter 2022 - Vol. 19, Issue 1

"Abolition of Touch"

written by

Cali Linfor

                    For the Ox, the Rocks, & the Tree

                    For Me & Mine

                    For You & Yours

We share breath & shadow. Temperature, pain & pressure.

Yet, we count as dumb the mute, the deaf, the blind.

Label as senseless what we think can’t communicate like we do by tongue, hand, ear, eye, facial expression, lip & tooth. Voice box.

We discount touch. Our minds the treasure, not skin,

our fur, our hair. the nerve of us, the feel & feeling of us.

The animal now of us. We imprison. Linguistically agress.

Eugenically suppress. We display. We make a spectacle. 

The Venus Hottentot. Filipinos in a Spanish Zoo. The Circus 

& the Freak Show. A sex worker in an Amstradam window.

The triple layered anatomical drawings of medical textbooks.

Psychological case studies. The zing & zap of electric shock.

The cat, suckling pig & frog dissected. The nameless cadaver

for practice of a surgeon’s scalpel. Unthanked. Unblessed.

We pretend these bodies never felt anything, wanted anything as divine, as simple, as perfect, as the tactile joy of another. 

We seperate into wards & cells. Limit reproductive possibility

by knife or time part. We chemically castrate. We isolate.

We put “undesirable” men in the penitentiary for a century.

We send women to the madhouse, the attic, on retreat.

Deny there are other genders & sexes. Other patterns

for loving, for living, for being & always have been.

We discourage hugs. We judge kisses even on the cheek.

Solitary is legally allowed, dentition, suspension, time out.

I close my eyes & see my mother in a bed strapped down

by her wrists.  For her own good. The County Hospital

painted white, trimmed in mint. There are no visiting hours

behind these double doors with sentries in scrubs.

I see your loved ones too. Feel them. I see you, feel you too.

Cali Linfor (she/her/hers) is a lecturer, activist, poet and essayist living in San Diego. A mother and a widow. A queer, all purpose nerd, and bookworm, She has published poems, articles, and short stories in Wordgathering, The Beloit Poetry Review, Manzanita Review, Ekphrasis, and others. Cali was born with a genetic disability, Duane’s Radial Ray Syndrome, that has influenced her creative work. A triple threat, themes of dyslexia and PTSD can also be found in her writing. Her first book, A Book of Ugly Things, appears in Lantern Tree: Four Books of Poems. Currently, Cali is completing a second book of poetry entitled I, Animal. She has an MFA from San Diego State University in Poetry.

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