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Disability

You get a new perspective
when you're not getting around so well.
Each outing is a dance
on a razor's edge of danger.
Stairs turn into mountains,
puddles become lakes,
each little patch of soft ground
is a marsh that can capture
a boot or the tip of a cane.

Things that were easy
now leave me befuddled:
doors,
curbs,
shopping baskets,
all require a new approach,
or at least a little thought.

Children now terrify me,
with their lanky, darting movements,
and murky understanding
of other people's needs.
Adults are little better
as they race through their errands,
too hurried to see,
too rushed to care,
whether drunk on whiskey
(or themselves)
I do not know.

So I'm glad enough
to isolate at home,
where I remove the painful
torture-boot
that is supposed to help
but only hurts.
Here I can surround myself
with silky softness,
take a deep breath,
wipe my hand across my mouth,
and shake my head in amazement
of how thoughtless the world is,
how thoughtless I was,
and I plot how to make
our society
a kinder
place.

This was written for The Sunday Whirl. I meant to write this as a prose essay, but caught myself getting pedantic. No matter how observant you think you are, being disabled, even temporarily, makes you see every space and every interaction in a whole new way. I am fortunate to have the type of job where I can take some immediate action and maybe help someone who is also struggling with doors, blind corners, and how they're supposed to get across a big college campus when they can barely get from their bed to the bathroom. I have gone from ballerina to crusader!

4 comments:

oldegg said...

Humanity is pretty slow in embracing the disabled as human beings. Tiny steps are at least steps in the right direction and luckily in many places their voices are being heard and listened to. It is good to rattle the cage now and then.

November 18, 2013 at 12:06 AM
Alice Audrey said...

There are so many different ways in which people need special attention that it's almost impossible to adjust to everyone.

November 18, 2013 at 10:27 PM
Ann (bunnygirl) said...

@Alice: You are right, but basic awareness benefits everyone and is a good place to start. For the able-bodied, it's a nuisance when a sacker puts all the heavy items into one bag, or a lady blows through the crosswalk without checking for pedestrians. When you're not so nimble, these sorts of things are hazardous.

In a recent conference presentation on disability etiquette, the presenter pointed out that most things that benefit the disabled, such as automatic doors and functioning elevators, are appreciated by the fully-abled as well. It's rarely about treating people "special," it's about common sense and decency.

November 18, 2013 at 11:57 PM
gautami tripathy said...

I really liked your poem. It reminds us to have patience and be tolerant towards those who are slowed down in their reflexes for whatsoever reasons...


Here is my Sunday Swirl post:
bridging the past with the future

November 23, 2013 at 9:59 AM