Monstering

Disabled Women and Nonbinary People Celebrating Monsterhood

. . . Flinch

CW: Abuse

 

When it’s everywhere, you give up/ and what you once called pain,/you start to call yourself.
            – Fleda Brown, “The Devil’s Child”

 

I drag it   around with me
I stow it    in the pocket    of my middle
Like I might    need it later
Like my grandmother    carries   the Depression   
In drawers full   of sugar packets   rubber bands
A marsupial    who thinks pain   
Is her baby   tuck, tuck     there, there     I consume

Coffee    like gasoline   pills
With the most careful   addict's   math   
Counting hours   like a pharmacist...tick...tick
I feel it   percolate
Or is it   the caffeine
Or does the earth    quake
The body learns to cringe    inward

Translates pain
Memory like    tripwire across
The kitchen   my trigger   son who is
Only autistic   not actually
My father   shouting   brother   mother
Pouring out life    by the glass
A body can’t tell   the difference

His face becomes   other   when he doesn’t
Like something
   there was always something
   to shrink from.

I’ve been guarding
Against so much   my eyelids   mimic it
In bed   or in my soft chair   my body
Sparkles like   Christmas lights   left leg   upper left thigh   a flutter
Not mine   like a fetus   right finger   twitch
The whole hand sometimes, stop

In that last hour
Before sleep   before the baby cries
Or the smoke detector   detects   nothing real
Faulty batteries   faulty synapses
Before the cat yowls   the alarm
Or the boy   wanders out
Before my husband wakes   hunching
Into his clothes and I am   afraid
Of the effort    my heart makes

There is no quiet even   in quiet except   
   in that space
Where the house   and the others   are all   at rest
And my body whispers   to itself   
    ... alert…... alert…... danger
   ... flinch.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The author is centrally-featured in an whitewashed photo nearly devoid of color except for spikes of auburn hair, a hint of blue eyes, a pink almost-smile (or is it a smirk?) and a red-polished thumb resting on the author's chin (much like an artist surveying their work). The thumb sports a clunky silver ring which, upon closer inspection, reveals itself to be an owl perched upside-down. Abstract lines suggest a shoulder, a plunging neckline, the chain of a necklace, a freckled hand, and the cuff of a sleeve; also, the lines of a face content to gaze directly at the viewer, even as the viewer gazes upon the face.

The author is centrally-featured in an whitewashed photo nearly devoid of color except for spikes of auburn hair, a hint of blue eyes, a pink almost-smile (or is it a smirk?) and a red-polished thumb resting on the author's chin (much like an artist surveying their work). The thumb sports a clunky silver ring which, upon closer inspection, reveals itself to be an owl perched upside-down. Abstract lines suggest a shoulder, a plunging neckline, the chain of a necklace, a freckled hand, and the cuff of a sleeve; also, the lines of a face content to gaze directly at the viewer, even as the viewer gazes upon the face.

Writing by SHANNON CONNOR WINWARD has appeared far and wide in places like Fantasy & Science Fiction, Analog, The Pedestal Magazine, Lunch Ticket, Rogue Agent, Argot, The Monarch Review, Cider Press Review, Literary Mama, and Rivet: the journal of writing that takes risks. She is a Delaware Division of the Arts Emerging Artist Fellow and author of The Year of the Witch (Sycorax Press, 2018) and the Elgin-award winning chapbook Undoing Winter (Finishing Line Press, 2014). Shannon shares her body with chronic illness of the physical and mental persuasions, but her spirit is doing pretty well, all things considered. In between parenting, writing and other madness, Shannon edits Riddled with Arrows Literary Journal. Visit www.shannonconnorwinward.com.