Cover Photo: Photograph by Diana Parkhouse/Unsplash
Photograph by Diana Parkhouse/Unsplash

When Disability Is a Toxic Legacy

Disability is not wrong or tragic or bad, but sometimes it is a symptom of a grave injustice.

ThisisAn Unquiet Mind, a monthly column by s.e. smith that explores disability identity and its interaction with the world at large.

One of my earliest memories involves sitting under the massive, whirling arms of a Heidelberg Windmill, listening to the kiss/thunk of the press, beating in a steady, familiar, comforting rhythm that matched the beat of my own small heart. It was a foil run that day, and the light glittered off the foil, a forbidden banner of gold, as it jerked through the feeder. Someone must have been operating the press but in my memory I am alone, looking up through the forest of machinery, feeling the throb of the press across my whole body.


s.e. smith is a National Magazine Award-winning Northern California-based writer who has appeared in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Bitch Magazine, and numerous other fine publications.