Care Of/Attention—misguided social media commentators, bus seat hoggers, ignorant board of trustees members, inspiration porn consumers, Big Pharma conspirators, and you shitty parents who stare at me but tell your poor, curious, confused children not to,
Give me a moment of your time.
It has come to my attention that you have never, ever
talked to a disabled person before
except to tell us how BRAVE we are
for not shutting ourselves in the house
or to APOLOGIZE that we
were BORN this way, or better yet
to spout bullshit you learned
about us from Google and make suggestions
on how we ought to live our lives
based off of
So, Earthlings . . . HELLO.
I come among you
in peace. Though I am an odd
SO unlike you, I mean you no harm.
I come on behalf
of my sick and disabled fellows.
I’m used to speaking for ALL of us.
Dear foolish, beautiful, tiresome earthlings
my people see
feel your incrimination
You look to us for proof
your life isn’t so bad
you paste motivational quotes across our faces
and hang us on your mind’s wall.
Hey, at least you’re not
ANYTHING like me!
Your spine is straight
all four of your limbs work
and your brain is 100% NORMAL.
Thank GOD, right? You tell us
you could never do
what we do . . . smile
hold our head high
shop for groceries
and go on dates
DISABLED? No, you NEVER COULD.
God gave us this journey and made us special
because we can handle it . . .
well, until we can’t, but that’s not table conversation, is it?
And yet, despite all of this chatter
about our bravery, you make our lives
HARDER. Slam doors in our faces
park in our parking places
sit in our designated seats, and
verbally berate us when we’re moving too slow
or taking up too much space.
And, Dear Earthlings, I feel no shame in explaining
what you know about us is prepackaged fluff.
we’re not exaggerating
OR faking it, so give us the goddamn bus seat
before our knees collapse.
we need these big scary pills and constant doctor visits
to survive whether your tarot spreads and old gods
or Jenny McCarthy or Facebook friends
or whatever agree or not.
you can’t touch our hands, face, cane, OR wheelchair.
it is not our bodies or brains that are a curse
it’s a world that won’t put elevators on a college campus
because it’s historic, a world that tells us to stop whining
when we’re in pain, a world that is totally fine with a book
titled Crippled America displayed in Costco
but not with me reclaiming it and throwing it lovingly in their faces.
Which brings me to my final point
Dear Earthlings, there is nothing BAD about our bodies
or our brains. A big scarlet “D”
was not tramp-stamped on us
If your world learned not to fear us
we would not be reminded daily
of our constant struggle.
We COULD live in your world comfortably
if you let us
but NOOOO . . .
Dear Earthlings, I have been called
more times than I can count
but, Dear Earthlings, accept, for now
I am a part of your planet.
Dear Earthlings, let me in.
Sincerely, the subject of your stares and whispers
an alleged angel
a limp in the leg
a convenient permanent limp hand
Milo, a perpetual Impossibility
Waltz with Apollo
As I dance for him
he tells me I am ample
and all is right in the world
and for once I enjoy filling space with
the waves and ripples of my body.
This body, he says, is a perfectly ripe pear
wrapped in cloud skin and painted with bits
of blue and red and honey brown.
It is worthy of loving
it is worthy of display
it is a celebration worthy of the gods
he says with a wry, knowing chuckle.
As I dance, he drinks it in slowly,
savoring my offering.
I am barefoot, my thighs
poured into jeggings like twin glasses of milk
whole fat milk
my breasts, as round as farmers market apples
in a lacy red underthing
and my stomach and hips can barely contain themselves.
They loosen to the toasty air
like the evidence of the adequate nourishment they are.
My scars blur with my movement into stretch marks.
He says, call them growing pains
As I dance, suddenly I feel him behind me
swaying my hips from side to side with his harp-player hands
the buttons of my spine line up with the path of his sternum
he nestles his chin in my softened shoulder
and he whispers
“You are crafted from earth
you are art whether you are at movement or at rest
if only you saw what I see of you
you chose me, but I choose you right back . . .”
and then he calls me by the name he chose for me
and when I finally pull myself out of this reverie
as the phone rings
I feel his words pounded into my heart
pulsing with each pump of vital blood
tonight, as I rub tea tree oil on my scars
and feel clumsy in my skin, I remember that night
I remember that this dull ache in my thigh
is just growing pains
that I am a perfectly ripe pear, that I am art
that I am celebration
and he strokes my scars and guides me
out of the bath
and firmly tells me