Breath & Shadow
Winter 2023 - Vol. 20, Issue 1
"Accommodation v Inclusion"
One aspect of the pandemic made life more accessible for those whose disabilities limit our ability to participate in cultural, educational, and employment opportunities. People with disabilities as well as those who are immunocompromised, parents who can’t afford childcare, folks for whom traveling outside their neighborhoods or after dark endangers them, people whose access to transportation ends early because buses stop running on certain routes, individuals who just can't spare the hours required to get from their home to an event or meeting location and back, and other groups benefited from the measures taken once the magnitude of Covid-19 became apparent in the U.S.
As events transitioned to virtual-only in 2020, many of those groups suddenly had access to concerts, art exhibitions, readings, classes, dance performances, plays, movies, and the ability to participate in decision making by their local and state governments.
"And We Shall Have Peace"
Give me your anger
white hot and raging, a sword
that cares not what or who it cuts, or why
and leaves your hands scarred
clasped together in prayer.
"Another Time and Place"
I hate human intimacy. The airport security guard’s hands run down my thighs and brush my breasts. I resist the urge to flinch. The feeling is fleeting, then she nods me on and I walk the belt-barrier maze to wait for boarding.
As a child, I travelled a lot. The motions of checking in, security, waiting in taciturn terminals and boarding were like living out a memory. It could have been my father’s back in front of me, his hands tight around the leather satchel containing everything from our passports to multiple foreign currencies.
Since I became an adult, I developed an aversion to travel and limited my trips to one yearly journey. Usually, I reserve that trip for family, but this year is different. My reason for travelling is a twenty-year-old promise: a promise constructed by someone who is no longer me, to another imposter of time.
"Even Broken Clocks are Right Twice a Day but My Clock Doesn't Seem to Exist"
It’s yesterday again,
and somehow today is tomorrow.
I try to count the hours but still it seems
every minute is the minute that came before.
"How To Communicate: A Book Review"
The title of John Lee Clark’s recently released book of poetry encapsulates in a pithy manner something central to the experience of the DeafBlind: How to Communicate.
Few are better equipped to address How to Communicate among the DeafBlind than John Lee Clark. A second generation DeafBlind person, he was born in 1978 with Usher syndrome into a family whose primary mode of communication was American Sign Language (ASL). Thus, ASL is his native language; he learned to read English at the age of 12. As is common among people with Usher syndrome, Clark was born with profound hearing loss and lost his vision in his teen years. He is an accomplished author and poet.
"I Lay Down and Then"
J. Roscoe Cunningham
my body is a house that is constantly settling the foundation cracking, the timbers bowing as gravity pulls them relentlessly down to the center of the earth.
the nails and glue of the joins strain, creaking as the rotted warped lumber shifts sending force down so many paths that were never built to contain it.
"It’s Only Rock-n-Roll"
It is Tuesday the ninth of June and I am just finishing Paul Weller’s guitar. The Jam is performing at a concert this week and Paul wants his Rickenbacker to be perfect, the action and intonation just right. Dave, the electronics engineer, has made a special electronic device for tuning the octaves, and I have been doing just that, but it’s an awkward job with this particular make of guitar. The bridge is a bitch to tune, but I have persevered and it is now as good as it will ever be. It’s half past four and I will be going home in about an hour and a half, and so I start to clear the work bench and put my tools away. Then I sit down on my stool, a tall chair with a high back that was once David Bowie’s and pick up the guitar and start to play.
"PTSD: The Forever Pain"
As soldiers, we put ourselves in harm’s way deliberately. Some of us volunteered to go to War in Afghanistan or Iraq. Others agreed to go wherever they were needed.
Shortly after my return from Afghanistan, I looked into the mirror and saw myself staring back at me. I had to tell the essence of truth. My responsibility was to tell the truth. I watched as I stared into the abyss. It was me, yet I felt it was not me staring back. How long had it been since I phased out--or zoned out--as some people liked to state to me.
20 seconds, 20 minutes, 20 hours or 20 months?
"Part of Her World"
Jennifer Lee Rossman
I was never strong enough to swim by myself when I lived on Earth, and water doesn't follow the rules in space. But I bet it feels a lot like this.
Weightless, hair whooshing around my head, limbs moving with hardly any effort. One push off the cool metal wall sends me drifting to the other side.
I kick off, the inertia sending my body into a corkscrew twirl. With no gravity to slow me, I keep spinning until I gently collide with the door on the opposite end.
Susan M. Silver
When a rare winter moon
Pushes through the night clouds
To present its plush peach self in full,
When the blooming spring daisy field beseeches me
To take a gentle roll through its ranks,
When an iridescent harmony sounds,
Charging through summer’s air like unfamiliar lightning,
"The First Great Super"
Super Jake hobbled into the physical therapy waiting room needing a rest, but he didn’t get the chance. Nurse Gina, clipboard in hand, burst through the door leading into the therapy section. Jake recognized her from last year’s round of visits to the clinic.
“Jake, Jake Worthy,” she said with a broad, white-toothed smile as if she remembered him.
“That’s Super Jake,” he said puffing out his pigeon chest. It wasn’t easy.
"Ties That Bind"
My guide dog’s harness and leash link us. Subtle sways of his body
vibrate through the tether
as we work together to unravel our surroundings.
I move through the world.
Hands guide me to explore.
Touch the flower’s petals,
slice the fruit,
hold the baby bird.
"Walking With Cerebral Palsy"
Red and blue lights danced on the roof of the 4-door sedan. My heart seized up. A moment ago, I had looked over my shoulder and found myself staring into a pair of high-beam headlights. I had thought the driver was trying to turn into the parking lot where I was walking and that I was in his way.
So, I had been moving off to the side to give him plenty of room to get by me. That was when I heard the shout. I’m not sure if the driver had yelled out his window or if he had barked through the loudspeaker. But the shout was loud and startling, and when I looked over my shoulder again, I saw the lights on the roof of the car.