Maya's essay Disability, Poetry, ASL, and Me in this issue.


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Contributor Notes

Maya Asher

Maya Asher


ASL Poem: One



I was not born deaf.


I was born with three things wrong with me:

1st I was born with an Auditory Processing Disorder

2nd ADHD

3rd Learning Disability.


The problem isn’t that I can’t hear,

It’s that I hear much more then I want.


In football fields,

in libraries,

in classrooms,

in dance clubs.


I started to learn Sign Language

because it was the only language

I could touch.


I sometimes wish I was deaf.

So that I would not hear words.


sometimes become a crowd,

and I can’t be alone inside words.

I get stuck.


I imagine I could live in silence (peace)

in football fields,

silence (peace) in libraries,

silence (peace) in dance clubs,

-- feeling the music.


I work with children now,

with long long lists of things wrong with them.

I work with children now that have Autism.


Hearing fine.

Speech fine.

But the two can’t connect.

Sign can create a bridge.

I see silence inside them, we are connected.

Sometimes, I’m the only one that sees.


Communication is more than words;

communication is in everything we do.


There is culture in every language.

There are cities inside small actions.

There are countries inside ME that words cannot capture. 




Communication breaks down.

Communication breaks down.

Communication breaks down,

                  —if we stop paying attention.


I wish I could swim inside silence (peace)

Touch, texture, time/history are all different

in silence (peace).


I learned sign language because it’s easier

for me to think

(process) when I’m —moving.





Little Buddhas


I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.


I am humbled by children.

Every time I think I know something

I’m reminded I am just a student.


James – large pink-lipped smile.

“AAA” he says pointing to the air duct. I pause.

“Yeah! Air!” and he repeats: “Yeah! Air!”


He squeals and places his face as close

To the vent as possible. His cheeks

Squeezing between the metal.


If I told you his diagnosis

it wouldn’t tell you anything.


I didn’t bring an agenda with me so I

Brought my face... next to his.

Where you hear the word air. I felt it.

The invisible city of currents,

cold curtains fluttering on my face.

There is a fine line between simple and profound.


We spend too much time thinking we forget to feel.

And there’s James, feeling to the fullest tilt of human capacity.

We call him special but not because of his talents.


It’s absurd... a single language, black and white words, and numbers

Can create measurements for the solar systems rotating inside us.


David takes my head in his hands.

Pulls me to his face, brown eyes with long eyelashes.

He taps his forehead to mine...slowly.

I think it means “I love you.”


They say he’s non-verbal,

But he gets his point across just fine.


Language is more then just words or spelling.

Communication is in everything we do.

Our actions are communicating, what have you communicated today?

There is a fine line between thinking and feeling.


Diagnoses are problems, conflicts – stubborn definitions –

Too often created from books that don’t know any better than to

give definitions.


I can’t pretend that prisms only bleed rainbows from a single direction.

Light traveling doesn’t stop to ask permission

doesn’t get directions on where normal is,

does not slid across bell curves with ease.


I haven’t forgotten what it felt like to be

a child ----- told she was a problem.


Swallowing dictionaries for the sake of

Someone else’s curriculum.


If I told you my diagnosis it wouldn’t tell you anything.


I’ve come to love the gaps inside me for all the possibilities

They gave me.


The best class I’ve ever taken, run by children.

Whose names were: behavior issue,


and physically aggressive.

These warriors, these activists protesting with blunt objects,

With teeth, with socially unacceptable behavior.


They are my journeymen,

                                                      and they’ve kept me honest.

Remind me they are the experts,

and I should just

                                            try to keep up.






Tarot Reader / The Moon Jumped Over the Trigger



It’s terrifying,

a psychic committing suicide.


Then laughable, as if death is a ridiculous

Yellow inflatable slide

that stretches out into darkness.

As if death was a painful orgasm,

twitching with a smile.


You were bitter herb tea.

You were a scaled harpy.

You were more of a woman

Than a witch.


Ten years later.

I sleep with tarot cards.


It is the same deck you used.

The colorful crosses on the back spread out

Look like the wallpaper from a house I once lived in. 


When I pull out my cards, I feel you smile.

I’m writing a poem about you,

but you know that.


You sleep with me, now,

tell me to spread out

your deck on my bed.


Send me dreams to hint,

When I’m not sure what to do.


When I was a little girl,

going to your apartment

was like going to church.


I could always

see the cathedral glass,

tiled along your nest

where others saw an apartment

cluttered with knickknacks.


Did you wake up one day knowing

Without ever consulting your cards?


You were too proud,

too much like smoke rising to stay.


You ended it while you could still lift up a gun.


I think about the hands

that could have been mine.

How they collected your body parts.

Signed your paperwork, oh,

how they loved you.


I wasn’t worried about you.

Never angry enough

to stop you from coming or going.


I didn’t remember your

body getting worse.

I didn’t remember you

walking with a cane.


But if you had asked me to,

I would have done it.

I would have pulled the trigger.


You knew better than us,

What was coming, and you

Swan dove into it.


I imagine you now,

floating on your back.


I was envious then,

of how it must of have felt

to move without skin.


I wanted to melt away,

flow out of my 15-year-old self

into ribbons, but I never felt ready or brave enough

to trigger sling shots through my body.


Your body splitting sounded like a flock of birds.

You shook your body off

like Mary Poppins shook her umbrella

before levitating. 


How brave you where, how brave you are.