For Social Justice Week, Audrey’s Corner is sharing stories of chronic illness and disability. Below is a collection of creative nonfiction and poetry from Audrey’s Corner editor, Kailey Blount. In her creative nonfiction piece, “No One Dances in the Desert,” Blount writes of a forest fire to symbolize her relationship with chronic illness. In her poem, “For Orange Bottle People,” Blount writes to the disabled community recounting her experience as a disabled woman living in an able-bodied world.
No One Dances in the Desert
Two twigs snapped off a sycamore tree. No one noticed their disappearance, not even the sycamore himself. He’d argue later that he felt their loss like missing limbs. But, by then only the wind would be around to listen.
Anyways, they snapped, and they ran and if anyone noticed, no one cared. Afterall, they were twigs. Twigs snap under the smallest of pressures.
The forest wasn’t a fool. She’d heard of fire. Forest Fires the humans called them. Like she had something to do with it. The wind had told her stories of fire’s destruction. But like everything green, she didn’t think harm could touch her.
So, when the twigs sparked a flame, she ignored them. They were twigs. Twigs that snapped without ever being touched. They were too weak to destroy her. Later, she’d deny feeling their spark- their pain. But, by then only the wind would be around to listen.
The fire did what fires do. He crept on burnt toes through rich soil hills, searing holes and spreading smoke. When the forest finally took notice, it was too late. He’d destroyed her deepest roots.
Engulfed in flames, she fell.
What was once green charred black. And from beneath the smoke, she wished to whoever watched from the clouds to give her back her roots, her trees, her twigs.
Desert sand didn’t suit her. No one dances in the desert.
Forest Fires she whispered to the wind. Maybe I did have something to do with it.
It took many years for Forest to feel anything other than sand again. When she did it began with twigs.
For Orange Bottle People
my name’s only ever been printed on orange bottles
i’ve imagined it just about everywhere else
mostly on pages
sometimes on chalkboards
anywhere but on these damn orange bottles
at least my letters don’t live on paper bracelets
i wore blue gowns and rubber socks for so long
i don’t quite know what to wear anymore
they assume you know what to do
after living with the dead
but you never do
you know how to swallow pills
you know how to turn wrists
you know how to rate pain
and nothing else
i’ve tried to learn
how to talk to strangers
drive in slow lanes
stand on bus lines
but mundanity escapes me
and all too soon
the paper bracelets find me
failing to boil water
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