Posts tagged "illness/disability"
Louder, Louder

Louder, Louder

Days after my doctor finds a lump on my thyroid, the size of an M&M (peanut he specifies, not plain) a student asks me what the nineties were like. For the nation?   For you, says my student. She is thirteen. Louder, louder, we say to her when she reads her poems because she barely...
Sunrise

Sunrise

Try not to think about the dog, Jack, the ten-pound mutt that won’t sit still in the back. He’s nervous, jitterbugging from window to window. Feels like trip to the vet. He pauses to bother with a flea. First teeth. Then raking with a hind leg. Then bounding over the gear shifter to check out...
Senior Moments

Senior Moments

Heavy double doors slowly swing open. A tall old man in a hospital johnny, stooped and gnarled, wanders the long hallway. My mother, half his height, pastel scrubs and permed hair, pulls me past him. “Sit in the day room with the residents. I’ve got to get to work.” Where my mother works, I follow....
Hoot

Hoot

1. She titled it “Autumn Beauty.” Three crimson maple leaves hang from slender, silvery branches, backgrounded by a watery swirl of teal, lime, burnt umber, and gold. A quiet peacefulness balances the bold beauty of the leaves. The painting was her favorite, and she brought it “just to show” when she and my dad came...

Review of Kelly Davio’s It’s Just Nerves: Notes on a Disability

As many essayists and memoirists know, poets often stroll into nonfiction and bowl a perfect strike, knocking us all over like so many bowling pins. Kelly Davio’s skill as a poet is in full effect in the pages of her new essay collection, It’s Just Nerves: Notes on a Disability. She’s underselling with that word...
The Birthday Place

The Birthday Place

“You know, Mother, today is my birthday.” I have reported this three times in the past hour. Across the room, on the sofa where she leans beside my father, Mother smiles. “That’s wonderful, dear.” The dear is generic, a term she employs when she forgets who I am. “And where is your birthday place?” “You...
Things I Did Between the Follow-Up Mammogram and the Ultrasound

Things I Did Between the Follow-Up Mammogram and the Ultrasound

1. Checked email. 2. Read an article about the genetic roots of trauma. 3. Imagined the next scene in a short story I’d begun at 4 a.m. during my most recent bout of insomnia—a poltergeist coming to consciousness during the adolescence of a girl named Radya. In the next scene, perhaps Radya’s parents will bring...
Shower Songs

Shower Songs

When we were twenty-three, I gave my twin brother a shower for the last time. “Lift with your legs,” my mother always said, but I never did. My brother Danny also had an electric lift, a hydraulic crane that cradled him in the air, but I never used it. I stood over his bed, wedged...
Dear Bad One

Dear Bad One

I hate anybody’s bad dream. My newest, right now, the size of a walnut, is the complex cystic structure on my left ovary, which my doctor said has grown larger since last time. It could be nothing. Could be nothing. I hate the pain everyone is in, at least sometimes, if he or she has...
To Seize, To Grasp

To Seize, To Grasp

The first one was not the worst one, although it brought the biggest shock: my infant daughter’s irises sought the edges of her eyelids, pried open by faulty synapses. Her arms bent into Ls, and her hands fisted at her face like a fetus. An alien staccato coursed through her limbs. What seized her was...
After the Hysterectomy

After the Hysterectomy

When you meet someone at twenty-one, someone eight years older and wiser, you learn the world through her eyes. You are a blank slate, a boy who hasn’t lost enough. You adopt what she wants and her views on life. Her interests—nature, birds, the infinite flat of Illinois—become your interests. And suddenly, you, the urban...
Sex Objects

Sex Objects

The skirt was a Home Economics class project.  The hem ended up uneven, the waistband was a joke, and the pattern of green and black checks stretched into fun house mirror waves over my hips.  It was too tight.  But I liked that.  I liked the press along my belly.  I liked how I had...
Home Bodily Repair Kit

Home Bodily Repair Kit

I Hair Painting The cuticle of the hair must be opened so that dye can reach the cortex. Open-heart surgery used to require breaking the whole chest apart. All spiritual traditions say you have to lose your life to find it. My body is losing itself, my hair is losing its pigment. More than 75...
For Great-Aunt Jeannette, Who Donated Her Body to Science

For Great-Aunt Jeannette, Who Donated Her Body to Science

She was still alive when the doctors started. They first carted off her breasts. Both glands at once, after the cancer. Next, patches on her arms stippled like ostrich skin, burned a syrup-thick hazel from sailing trips in the Whooping Crane up and down the salt-slow gulf. They’d begun taking from her ages ago. Begun...
This Moment

This Moment

This is it. This is the moment our lives crack wide open like a pomegranate and all its bloody bits spread long and wide. One month before my daughter turns sixteen, I stand by the hospital bed, look her in the eye, and ask why. She stares blankly at the ceiling, fidgets with the D-rings...
Poster Children

Poster Children

1. We’re in single file, led by an American flag with stars in the shape of a wheelchair, and headed to the convention hotel that I still think we’re going to picket. I can’t keep up. Someone steps behind me and pushes. I’m jealous of Eleanor on her scooter. We arrive and the driveways are...
A Day in the Grammar of Disease

A Day in the Grammar of Disease

If pain is a language, I have the accent on my tongue. I do not yet dream in pain, but a three-year immersion has stripped my skeleton’s previous fluency. Now I am a child in this land without good parking spaces. (10:30) Today my husband and I talked about my calcified hip and aching hands,...
The Laws of Physics and Good Common Sense

The Laws of Physics and Good Common Sense

A half dozen officers gathered to swap stories in the tent that housed the one hundred or so military personnel headed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. The six of us had met just forty-eight hours earlier outside the gate area at Baltimore Washington International—our country’s main portal to violence. Our only apparent bonds were our...