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Breath & Shadow

Winter 2023 - Vol. 20, Issue 1

"I Lay Down and Then"

written by

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.

when i wake with the roof pressing down on me, i roll over, swapping ceiling and floor, The hourglass of my body reset, I linger in the slow stretching of the compressed wood fibers, the brief relief of a novel gravity one that will, in time, become another oppressor, another pressure drawing my mass toward one compacted, solid point The promise and threat that my work will never be done because this house will always and forever be collapsing upon me.

It is easy to become tired and despair,

but also I have realized

that all homes require maintenance

and all maintenance can never be Finished --that is its nature-- so as I lay half-asleep

with the floor sinking down, away from the ceiling I feel the air rush into my lungs as

they expand and drift back into my dreams in blissful weightlessness.

J. Roscoe Cunningham is a plural transmasc neuroqueer based in Malden, MA.

Roscoe prefers to use Roscoe's name instead of pronouns and has some variant of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). When Roscoe isn't thinking about what it means to exist (which is a lot of Roscoe's time!) Roscoe spends a lot of time with various partners and tending to various aquaria."

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