On My Disability
After several minutes
of stalemate silence,
the man who reeks of alcohol,
who causes his wife to flinch when he storms
in before scurrying away,
evaluates my body and asks in disbelief,
“You are disabled? How?”
I want to have him pull up a chair,
light up a cigarette,
open up a beer,
and brace himself for the long haul,
because most of my therapists can’t even stomach it.
In the span of thirteen seconds
I want to crack apart my skull
and allow these memories to float like the Milky Way
from my brain to his.
I want him to see my father,
my sister running away,
my dog’s blood in the driveway,
the bed of a purple truck,
the first boy to show me around school trapped in a car in flames,
my sister’s best friend in a casket,
my best friend in a casket,
several more friends,
a near-stranger’s bed,
the standoff with the mirror,
the razor blades,
the nights I wake up screaming,
the inability to tell my partner
I love him
because the words form a sock in my throat
that is so thick I can barely breathe through.
the hurricane stays inside me
because I want to win a fight
I know his wife will lose.
I bite my teeth together and
narrow my eyes and
straighten up my spine in a way she will never be able to and say,
“Yes. Would you like to see my paperwork?”
In honor of PTSD Awareness day of June 27, this selection comes from the book, On Becoming a Role Model, available from Thirty West Publishing. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Ada Rivera.
Lynne Schmidt is a mental health professional and an award winning poet and memoir author. She is the author of the poetry chapbooks, Gravity (Nightingale and Sparrow Press), and On Becoming a Role Model (Thirty West). Her work has received the Maine Nonfiction Award, Editor’s Choice Award, and was a 2018 and 2019 PNWA finalist for memoir and poetry respectively. Lynne was a five time 2019 Best of the Net Nominee, and has received honorable mention for the Charles Bukowski Poetry Award, the Doug Draime Prize for Poetry, and Joy of the Pen. In 2012 she started the project, AbortionChat, which aims to lessen the stigma around abortion. When given the choice, Lynne prefers the company of her three dogs and one cat to humans.
Nilsa Ada Rivera writes about gender and diversity issues. She’s the Managing Editor of The Wardrobe for Sundress Publications. She’s an MFA candidate at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work appeared in the Huffington Post, 50 GS Magazine, Six Hens Literary Journal, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, and Selkie Literary Magazine. She lives in Riverview, Florida with her multi-species family.