This morning this poem came. An expression of a part of myself, Disability, which I have long been in relationship with and yet, my understanding of continues to evolve.
Disability is the embodiment of living multiple truths at once.
It is the description of the ever-changing direction of the wind
Nimble focus to which way one screams the loudest
It is both under-stimulation and overstimulation,
Not being touched for years and being touched too often without permission
It is the identity that in other’s eyes, overrules all of our other identities, even being poor.
Welcome to the equal playing field of the fear of vulnerability
It is living in everyone’s expectation that if they try; at access, at niceness, then that trying, for us, should be enough
Slivers of doubt become trusted tools
Can I do this? Will they be there? Is there space for the tides change of my shifting needs?
Be prepared for anything. Be prepared for anything.
Unclenching my hyper-vigilance allows me to unfold my resting blanket of empathy
Many people rest here for a time
There is safety with the one who doesn’t belong
What they don’t realize is there is so much power in discovering how to not need to belong
It is a gift to understand that you can never fit in
And a gift to name for others that universal feeling of never fitting in
Disability is a forced exploration of every system Man has created to help those who can’t function in the Capitalist system
Or who need medical access, or who need help in their home, or for whom being in love is deemed inappropriate
We learn secret ways through concealed tunnels
We learn to be silent and take what we can find
Disability is living multiple levels at once
Awareness, vulnerability, empathy, humor, anger, focus, creativity
It takes planning for me to be here
Embracing “sustainable”, instead of “healthy”, as the label of betterment
It is a harder task, asking what will keep one going, in a way that keeps giving
I don’t count on anyone being comfortable around me
Except maybe other Disabled people, and then only sometimes
We’ve convinced ourselves that disability is something we should peel off
Keep hidden in a box, even those who have no hope of hiding
We are taught that to acknowledge our complexity, is to ask to be excluded
It takes years to learn that this is their biggest mistake
That in our complexity lies our greatest strength
Claiming it can revolutionize the world
Weaving Disability as part of the revolutionary fabric
Of being a more human, human being,
It is a spherical bridge to everyone alive
© 2014 Naomi Ortiz