God became the first surgeon when he carved into Adam’s chest to form Eve. Of course that’s why so many of us end up broken, I think as my doctor pushes my dislocated rib back into place. Clinical trials all based on men. Poor Eve and poor God, helpless even to help his uneven creation. So many people think the garden is forever, even now. No longer apples, but kale, crossfit and colonics to keep the doctor away. But the garden is a mirage.
The myth I like more is the story of Prometheus, who brought fire to mortals against the gods’ wishes. He loved us so much he chanced eternal pain to give us a chance. His gift could have destroyed humanity as easily as it could have saved us, and he trusted us to wield it well.
Peel away the body and every disability story is a love story. Or it’s a cruelty story, about the destruction the lack of love leaves behind. I dream of a world with more fire and no vengeful gods. Less blame and more care. When your rib slips and the garden dissolves around you I will hold the light for you. The torch is heavy, but together not more than we can bear.
3 Questions for Hannah
What was your process for creating this work?
These pieces arrived to me as a pair and created the foundation of a chapbook-in-progress that uses myth to explore disability and chronic illness. Since my ribs dislocate frequently, I've often reflected on how dissatisfying the Adam and Eve story is, especially the sexist framing that Eve was born from Adam's rib. Prometheus emerged from my desire for a more hopeful creation myth/metaphor. And when my friend Erika, a former classics scholar and my best writing confidant, told me the story of Pandora and included the detail about the womb-shaped pithos, I knew I had to write about it.
What is the significance of the form/genre you chose for this work?
These pieces live between poetry and prose because I wanted them to have both the storytelling quality of prose and the emotional punch of poetry.
What is the significance of this work to you?
The use of myth to explore disability feels significant in many different ways to me. Like the Greek myths, chronic pain is timeless and can blur the boundaries between past and present. There are so many wellness myths that fall away once you become disabled; the illusion that you were ever in control over the fate of your body immediately disappears. And while disabled characters are often left out of contemporary stories, the truth is we've always existed. Using myth as a metaphor for disability feels like a way to claim our place in the history of fiction.
Hannah Landsberger is a poet, theatre critic, and playwright from the Washington, DC area. Her poetry has appeared in publications such as Sick Magazine, Pangyrus Literary Magazine, Fatal Flaw Magazine, and The Hunger Journal. Her theatre reviews can be found on Broadwayworld.com.