For Victoria Arlen, by Mitchell K. Grabois


The welder looks through his mask and sees the world coming together in a shower of sparks. He finishes work, takes off his mask, turns and sees the world coming apart. He hears the heartbreaking sound of women screaming, children crying. It is like the sound of metal tearing. This is no tragic event that will be reported on TV. It’s just everyday life.

In the morning he goes back to work, puts on his mask, fires up his torch.


The Committee banned me from the Paralympics because there’s a slight chance that someday I may walk again. I floated in an oblivious coma for three years, then reentered life, the world of movement, the social sphere where particles of love come together and fly apart, where my intransitive body must traverse mountain ranges of complication. Like the welder, I must harness invisible fire in my rehabilitation.

The authorities are punishing me for having a glimmer of hope. I have no control of my legs, but have mastered my spirit. When I go to speak to groups, I open my heart, and hope those present will open theirs.


Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over nine hundred pieces of poetry and fiction appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for work published in 2012, 2013, and 2014. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. He lives in Denver.

mitch cover (1)

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