Maya's essay Disability, Poetry, ASL, and Me in this issue.
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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
3rd Learning Disability.
The problem isnt that I cant hear,
Its that I hear much more then I want.
In football fields,
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 cant 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.
But the two cant connect.
Sign can create a bridge.
I see silence inside them, we are connected.
Sometimes, Im 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.
(SIGN - NO TRANSLATION)
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 its easier
for me to think
(process) when Im —moving.
I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.
I am humbled by children.
Every time I think I know something
Im 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 wouldnt tell you anything.
I didnt 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 theres James, feeling to the fullest tilt of human capacity.
We call him special but not because of his talents.
Its 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 hes 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 dont know any better than to
I cant pretend that prisms only bleed rainbows from a single direction.
Light traveling doesnt stop to ask permission
doesnt get directions on where normal is,
does not slid across bell curves with ease.
I havent forgotten what it felt like to be
a child ----- told she was a problem.
Swallowing dictionaries for the sake of
Someone elses curriculum.
If I told you my diagnosis it wouldnt tell you anything.
Ive come to love the gaps inside me for all the possibilities
They gave me.
The best class Ive 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 theyve 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
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.
Im 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 Im 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 wasnt worried about you.
Never angry enough
to stop you from coming or going.
I didnt remember your
body getting worse.
I didnt 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
How brave you where, how brave you are.