Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Yesterday was...

...Blog Against Disablism Day. And I heard that and didn't think much either way, but then I read this brief tale, and was instantly reminded of the following poem, by a great poet and a friend for many years, Michael McNeilley. I bumped my previous post in honor of this more topical entry. We miss ya, cranky old man.


I am not a man with wheels,
although it is the wheels you see
when I roll in.

I am not a chair that speaks.
Still, you are surprised to hear
a voice come from this chair,

as if perhaps, a miracle,
I suddenly had healed, and next
would stand and walk.

I am not chairbound,
confined to a wheelchair, or
physically challenged;

I will not be defined
by my appliances:
rendered by my limitations.

I am not some kind of
disabilities recruiter, nor is my
lack of leg power

contagious. But you back up
as I speak,
as though you might

have something I would take
if I could reach it.
Oddest of all: the way

you race to grab your children,
shoving them aside, crying
"look out, Suzie...Billy please!"

as if I'd planned
to run one down.
The kids are better.

Many stare but most just say hello
the first time, before they're
snatched away.

Children see in me a grownup who
will meet their eyes, and wink,
and mean it; who rides

a funny indoor car;
their look is curiosity,
as they have yet to live

those bleak grey mornings of the soul
that shadow us down with the prospect
of our dying.

They've never stared at death,
and so they do not misconstrue
that I am in some way

connected; serve somehow
as death's signpost, its harbinger,
its minion.

I've heard many times:
"I hope that I go quickly,
and not end up that way,

stuck in a wheelchair," to which
my only answer must be to say
then, go ahead.

And in the end, I will be who I am,
and not just what I do,
and I am not resigned

to be defined by what
I use to
get things done,

for what you see of me may
reveal more of the observer
than it informs of the observed.

I know you say
you only want to help,
and I would never ask so much

as that you smile, but it will be
enough for now, at least if you
will gently move aside.

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