"The Facts" by Mark Rigney

1. What are the unspoken meanings of the line “I’m a big boy now…”?
2. What does the “walk” around the lake mean for each of the characters?
3. Were Maurice and/or Kaylie responsible for Lewis’ death?
4. Did Lewis commit suicide?
5. Discuss the author’s comments about the “newspaper reporting” point of view.
6. How does the author reveal information about characters and events?
7. Is there foreshadowing in this story?

Keywords: Caretaking, Death, Disability, Independence, Nurses, Uncertainty

"Forgettery" by Rachel Hadas

1. What happened to the poet? To her voice – spoken, written?
2. The language “lands on its feet” – did the poet?
3. Has her quality of life been diminished, enhanced, or left unchanged?
4. Comment on the last line: “I could have been in search of nothing and found just what I was looking for.”
5. Discuss these words: “forgettery” and “obliviousness.”
6. How might language live on after it has been uttered or once the speaker has been “silenced?”
7. The poem deals in numerous paradoxes. What are the kinds of paradoxes that comprise the narrator’s journey? How do they shape her journey? How might they inform the symbolism of the narrator’s train ride?

Keywords: Coping, Disability, Language, Loss, Memory, Silence, Time, Travel

"The Absolute Worst Thing" by Seth Carey

1. “Laughter and denial are the tools that make living with this nightmare possible.” Is laughter denial?
2. Is denial a bad thing?
3. What is your “absolute worst thing?”
4. What tone does the author adopt in telling his story? Does this make you empathize more or less with him?
5. Discuss these three things: cats, mosquitoes, hugging your wife.
6. What is the lesson of this story? Do you agree with author’s point of view? Would you have the same reaction to The Absolute Worst Thing you could think of?
7. Has the writer come to peace with his situation?

Keywords: Coping, Denial, Disability, Uncertainty

"Sentence" by Barbara Lefkowitz

1. Discuss the meaning of the title “Sentence,” particularly in relation to the poem’s structure, its lack of punctuation, as well as the last two lines of the poem.
2. What is the “round black lacuna that will replace forever the middle of this page?” Does it provide the reader with a clue to the speaker’s diagnosis?
3. Is there really certainty about prognosis?
4. Has the poet come to peace with her situation?
5. How do we prepare for future disability?
6. How does the poem manipulate/maneuver notions/images of space, of absence and presence, wholeness and emptiness, darkness and light?
7. How does the speaker use images of nature (the moon) to reflect upon her own situation?
8. How does the sentence “they robbed them blind” relate to the speaker’s situation?

Keywords: Coping, Disability, Loss, Nature

"Pain" by Stephen Dixon

1. Who is disabled?
2. Who is sick and who is well?
3. What happens when the caretaker becomes ill?
4. Does it make a difference if your caretaker is a family member or a health care professional?
5. The wife’s condition isn’t disclosed until midway through the piece. Are there any indications of her condition before it is explicitly revealed? How did her illness change in relation to her husband’s health/illness?
6. How did you feel at the end of the story?
7. Why is the husband so resistant to the idea of going to the doctor when he first experiences his pain?
8. What are the various forms of pain in this piece? Who feels it? What causes it?
9. Discuss the form of the poem, the single, continuous, hypotactic sentence. What effect does it create to the tone and mood? Does it make the poem, the events and thoughts it conveys, seem rushed or somehow overwhelming? Or maybe the repetition of “and” creates the opposite effect? What kind of emotion does the form convey? How does it make the reader feel? How does it affect the reader’s reception of the poem?
10. What does the husband’s routine reveal about him, about his life, his values, his marital and familial relationships, his role and place in his family, and how he views himself?
11. Another aspect of this routine to consider is its specificity. Food, time, dialogue, and actions are related precisely. What large picture can the reader construct/infer from these minute details?
12. What is the relationship between the husband and wife? What is the basis of their relationship? How does his caring for her inform or determine their relationship? With this in mind, how does his own illness affect their relationship?
13. Is the reader ever provided insight into the wife’s perspective, how she feels about her husband’s illness and how it changes or affects her life?

Keywords: Caretaking, Denial, Dependency, Family, Fear, Intimacy, Marriage, Medication, Relationships, Responsibility, Strength, Trust