Breath & Shadow
A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature
Breath and Shadow
Volume 14 Issue 3
Letter to My Child
By AJ Rio-Glick
when hearing people write lies on your skin in front of your eyes, listen, but don't look.
they will think you're not there, disappeared into your head again, but make yourself listen, and make yourself speak back. speak truths.
when they call you inspirational, listen. you are, but not in the way that they mean. figure it out for yourself, and then trace the patterns that run away from your ears and all the way down your throat, down your chest, down your stomach, trace them alone, by yourself, and realize you are inspirational, but not in the way that they mean.
when they tell you that things aren't how they are, listen. they are trying to help you. they don't know that people like us dig for honesty the way gold miners did for gold in 1860: the search is crazed and the gold is rare. they don't know that you've spent all of your years with your ears stretching, with your lips coaxing, hoping that maybe someone will walk into your life and repeat the world to you line by line, word by word. other kids will dream of princes and princesses and you will dream of clarity. be your own clarity.
someone will come into your life and think that love means showing you the world through their voice. when they tell you that you are crazy, walk away. it won't matter any more that they are trying to help you - the maps that they draw while you are sleeping will be laced with their own pain, and the stories they tell you will be contorted. you're not the only person who gets lost in their head. make your own maps when you wake up.
when they tell you it is your fault, listen. remember that no one else knows your ears like you do: no one else heard that van gogh cut off his ear and identified with him so strongly, but you did. they will tell you that some things are more important to listen to than others, that you don't get to decide. but more often than not, they want your energy spent on them and no one else. remember that you get to decide. you do.
remember that your voice will come and go. they will rely on their voices in a way that you never will: their voices will give them an out and your voice will keep you locked in. and when you do speak, they won't listen to you the way they listen to each other, partly because your voice may only ever teach you that it doesn't want to be listened to, and partly because you speak too softly.
when you finally open your lips, listen. there is no sound like yours, baby.
AJ Rio-Glick is in their final year at Bard College at Simon's Rock in Massachusetts where they study social action/social change and creative writing. They are currently working on a senior thesis on female masculinity in the queer community. They like to draw, discuss social issues, and write (and write and write). email@example.com
Why Did You Leave Us, Linda?
By Elizabeth Marchitti
We knew you weren’t meant to grow old.
You had so many problems caused
by your R.A.
You had surgeries on so many parts of your body,
still you made it to workshops and readings,
with the help of your mother, Margaret,
that amazing lady.
You wrote wonderful poems,
at first about your problems,
and then, that said, you went on
empathically with poems about others.
The ones about the Japanese Internment
during World War Two were amazing,
As if you were inside the heads
of these women and children,
who, in spite of being taken away
from their homes and their neighborhoods,
made lives for themselves
In the internment camps.
Armed with photographs
and interviews, you wrote heart rending
poems about something that happened
before you were born.
Why did you leave me?
I know it was hard to be you.
But what shall I do now?
Who will tell me when my writing
is too prosy? Who will tell me
when my poems say exactly
what I want them to say?
Who will sit beside me in workshops,
and inspire me to write?
Who will remind me to be grateful
for my long life, my ordinary aches and pains
and the meager talent that I nourish?
Who? I miss you Linda. Miss you—
your poems, your presence.
Editor’s Note – Linda A Cronin, who passed away in March, 2016, was an assistant editor at “Breath and Shadow” for many years and is dearly missed.
Elizabeth Marchitti is an 85 year old wife, mother and grandmother of eight. In 2002 she had her bladder removed because of cancer, but considers it sometimes a nuisance, but not really a disability. She has written so many poems since then, it hardly matters. Her work has been published in The Paterson Literary Review, Lips, and The Journal of New Jersey Poets, and in 2011 her poem The Music Tree won first prize in St. Catherine’s annual Art and Poetry Exhibition. A few years ago, her poem, “Plain English”, describing her “neobladder” (in plain English—) was published in Breath and Shadow.