Breath & Shadow
A Journal of Disability Culture and LiteratureWinter 2017
Breath and Shadow
Volume 14 Issue 1
Stuff My Non-Verbal Brother Says
By Alyssa Radtke
I lost the ability to convincingly imitate my brother's various vocalizations since his voice dropped. He has a deep man voice; I'm an alto and sound like five-year-old him, at best.
Smiling “Rawrs" while looking in your direction, rising in intonation as you near
I like the noise you're making, clanking down the hall.
Tornado siren shouts at 11:05 on a Sunday Hurry up, Pastor, you're running long.
Slightly coughed purr.
Ah...that tickles. I like it.
Lung capacity testing howling
I know it's two a.m., but I've got something to say. LISTEN!
Face scrunched in a pruny “O," tongue sticking though the hole Various levels of "DO NOT LIKE!"
Tongue working away happily
This, this expensive wine you gave me a taste of on your finger, I LOVE.
Medium length question-yelps, repeating every minute or so
I'm not a potted plant, why did you leave me alone? At least turn on some music.
Darth Vader breathing
Why, oh, WHY are you wiping my face?
Punching someone in the clavicle while lying on the pull-out couch I need leverage to see what's going on over the back of the couch. YOU are that leverage.
Static-like chirps, breaking up your phone call home
I hear your voice! Where are you and your noise?
I know I'm cute enough to get away with whatever mischief I just did-including goosing you.
Really lecherous glances in the direction of that cheerleader who just called him “adorable"
Come a little closer, babe, and I'll cop a feel.
Sigh, while wearing round sun glasses
I love the shade. This is the best.
Childless, Hormonal College Girls at a Baby Shower
By Alyssa Radtke
Do you want boys or girls?
I ask, and they give the typical answer:
able bodies implied.
When there aren't kids
with sparking smiles,
my candlewax ovaries
can be counted on to recall
the smothered baby
dolls of childhood-strangled
as I tried to hold them
and walk upright-
and the kitchen
I can't wheelchair in.
But, lit by weapons
these traitors wick away
at reason 'til my
womb is a churning estuary
So, I compromise-
I don't want able-bodied kids.
Couldn't keep up with 'em.
The other girls at me like I've
tipped candle to crepe paper,
burnt the living room down.
Because I might
want a child like me.
Alyssa Radtke is currently pursuing a M.F.A with a poetry concentration at the University of Memphis. Her first short collection of poems, Ramped Soapbox, can be found online at The University of Mississippi's Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College thesis repository.