“You’re such a teacher’s pet!
What’s with your hands? Are you retarded or something?”
It’s taken me a long time
to realize just how traumatizing it all was.
That I was ridiculed both for being different and intelligent.
One of these things I couldn’t control.
I wanted so badly to fit in,
to belong to someone, somewhere.
But shaky hands don’t make for polite greetings,
just empty stares for the class nerd.
Having cerebral palsy robbed me of friendship
before I even knew the denotation of that blessed treasure.
No one wanted to be friends with the girl
with avalanches for hands,
who couldn’t hold her juice without spilling it everywhere.
Or, the child who didn’t have the luxury
of passing coded notes to comrades,
amidst snickers and silent giggles
when the teacher’s back was turned,
because she was doomed to sit in the very front of the classroom
so her impaired vision wasn’t another source of ammunition
for the loaded insults they launched daily.
A quiet child with few friends,
hanging onto the skirt tails of loneliness
in a frivolous attempt to put my soul at rest.
It’s taken me too long to see just how traumatic it’s been.
Worn books and dog-eared pages
were my greatest lovers,
but I can’t receive a comforting hug
from The Count of Monte Cristo,
despite my infatuation with Edmund Dantes.
It’s getting past the point of comfort,
but because it’s familiar, I can’t part with it.
Yet, I think, there’s room for more,
space for someone real and nice and soft.
Someone who won’t be bothered if my hands
revert to avalanches that refuse to keep wine
tethered to its glass, but rather lets it explore boundaries,
and who won’t mind if I read Shakespeare
in the morning and go to bed with Edgar Allan Poe.