Artwork © Elinora Westfall


“It’s a disease. And it can be cured.”

My father spouted this.
Before he knew
he was talking about me.
I repeated this
Such grave clarity,
Such knowledge –
To my camp director.
At Girl Scout camp.
I had heard some things,
But was not sure.
The words just left my mouth,
Like a canary in a cave.
As I fought a war inside myself.
Hiding my disease.
Is cure really a comfort?
It must be true.
Because my father.
The words were charged
Hammering hard.
-Like nails in the coffin.
I wish she had not flinched.
Her face twisted,
And pained.
I could not comprehend
The earthquake of emotion.
Fighting a war inside herself.
She said,
“Keep growing up”
I walked away
In teenage victory-
Haunted by this moment
So many times
As an adult.
So much gratitude-
That I finally,
After years in solitude.
Had found someone who was
Safe enough
To start a dialogue with.


Observer of the human condition and advocate for human rights, Donna Woods is board certified in internal medicine and emergency medicine. She has been practicing medicine in Tucson for the past 17 years.

Influenced by David Bowie, Virginia Woolf and Sally Wainwright, Elinora Westfall is an Australian/British lesbian actress and writer of stage, screen, fiction, poetry and radio from the UK. Her novel, Everland has been selected for the Penguin and Random House WriteNow 2021 Editorial Programme, and her short films have been selected by Pinewood Studios & Lift-Off Sessions, Cannes Film Festival, Raindance Film Festival, Camden Fringe Festival and Edinburgh Fringe Festival, while her theatre shows have been performed in London’s West End and on Broadway, where she won the award for Best Monologue. Elinora is also working on The Art of Almost, a lesbian comedy-drama radio series as well as writing a television drama series and the sequel to her novel, Everland.