Posts tagged "illness/disability"

That Counting Steps Nonsense

I’m planted on a cushioned wicker chair, on my grandparents’ South Jersey porch, the wind and gulls in my ears. But I’m all knuckles. Dad has come up from his latest state, Texas, with his new girlfriend to set me up at grad school. He wants me employable with benefits after seven years on the...

If

… the six pathologists at Colorado’s Air Force Academy had voted differently on the diagnosis of the biopsy from your cheek–the same cheek you popped with your thumb before shuffling cards for Gin Rummy, if they had voted four melanoma, two sarcoma instead of the other way around, if they had not voted wrong on...

The Role of Fiction in Suicidal Ideations

I get ten new suicidal adolescents a week in my creative writing class at the psych hospital where I work. Their arms are mutilated. Their minds tortured with self-hate. Some are gothic, others only misfits who are picked on at school. They’ve been taken from their homes by DHR, betrayed by drug-addicted parents. It exposes...

Mortal Grammar

Lia got sick and then died. She was young. She got liver cancer. She’s gone. So is her black hair and her violin and the car she’d just bought. So are we. We left not long after. Before she knew she came up to the city. She wanted to have supper with us. It was...

What Grace There Is

Sooner than you think, everyone will be drunk. You won’t know it, but Kenny will be upstairs banging out a punk rock rhythm on your drum set. The sticks will explode from his sweaty grip. The next day, you’ll find a neat hole punched in the surface of your wardrobe door. The boy you all...

Waiting on Cancer

I sit in a wheelchair alone in a dim hallway. I am waiting and it seems an eternity, parked against a wall, awkwardly abandoned in an anonymous dark corridor while the technician busies himself until one of the giant machines opens up. For once I have nothing to read and no one to talk to,...

Little Things

My mother’s dollhouse has become a constant reminder of something—what?—in the time we spend with her, if it could be said to be spent. At eighty-nine she remembers very little. She does not so much talk as chime, like a clock with a surreal burden: Do we have anything to eat for dinner? Yes, chicken....

Diagnosable

It comes at me through the back of the head, down by where my neck splits off, comes slicing through the skin and bone and ligaments and mixing up all the different colors of matter in my brain so it’s finally all grey stuff that hits the inside part of my face like John Henry’s...

Comfort Food

I woo Jeanne’s appetite with her favorite Southern foods. Grits, banana pudding, Miracle Whip, and bologna loaf on white bread. French dressing over cottage cheese. Sausage gravy over biscuits: pallid sauce so thick with grease that the leftovers will congeal, gray and lumpy. Tomorrow I will reheat them to mash over her toast. When she...

A Stranger at Dusk

Looking out the window of our front room at dusk that chilly day in the spring of my twelfth year, I saw a tall man weaving toward our front door. I was intrigued not only by his peculiar gait but also by the fact I did not recognize the man.  Strangers were rare in the...

The Necessity of Navel-Gazing

[Note: A concluding list, “The ABCs of Navel-Gazing,” is footnoted throughout the essay.] On January 6, 2009, I woke up with half a belly button.(1) That little scar from cutting the umbilical cord, a scar I usually don’t heed or notice or invoke, that cute little wrinkled indentation, was split right down the center on...

Spoiled Love

My hands clenching my abdomen, I emerge from the bathroom and drop to my knees at the crossroads. To the right is my husband; to the left, my mother. Some instinct I thought had left me when I married kicks in and I crawl toward my mother, asleep on the spare twin in my son’s...

Devotion

Where I grew up in Queens, New York City, there was a boy living in the house across the street. His name was Sherman. Somewhere, there is a photo of the two of us from the day I turned seven: I am in a yellow dress and a yellow birthday hat, running down the driveway...

Aftermath

After the skies broke open with a stunning crack about two o’clock in the morning, brilliant flashes of blue flooding the Winnebago like strobe lights; after the rain cut rivulets through the sand, long scratches of some malevolent creature obviously displeased with the earth; after Kennie and his dad had been out on the beach...

May Showers

Like this, the man says, smoothing a dollop of salve across his wife’s shoulder blades, over the rashes blooming there like teacup roses. With two fingers, he works the cream in circular motions down her rib cage, along the row of black stitches lining the curve of her spine.  Look here, he says, and here....

The Crab in the Stars

I am home alone—sort of.  I am almost twelve, and I am unsupervised.  My parents have gone shopping.  My brother is at a friend’s.  It’s just me and my grandparents, who live in an apartment attached to our house. My grandfather is sick.  He has been for a year.  For a few weeks now he...