The speed reading class for seventh graders
slumped over tight columns of text spread flat
on tables in the library where in her half-glasses
the kind mistress of mundane rentals said:
just do your best. i don’t expect a miracle.
The Friday dance nights for five dollars
where antsy teens shuffled in a circle & the boys
used too much drugstore cologne & the girls
flaunted noisy earrings & strappy shoes.
i took a place in the circle, left my white
cane on the sidelines, tucked in my purse.
The teambuilding tasks at orientation
teaching trust by tumbling back against a net
of classmate arms outstretched to catch
us — but how should i fall? i don’t judge distances
& can’t scale the high tower where others are
fighting their fears & learning to fail.
Added: Thursday, May 27, 2021 / Used with permission. From "Neoteny: Poems" (Finishing Line Press, 2019).
Emily K. Michael is a blind poet, musician, and writing teacher from Jacksonville, FL. Her poetry and essays have appeared in Wordgathering,The Hopper, Artemis Journal, The South Carolina Review, The Deaf Poets Society, Nine Mile Magazine, Rogue Agent, Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics, BREVITY’s Nonfiction Blog, Barriers and Belonging, and Welcome to the Resistance. Emily’s work centers on ecology, disability, and music. She works as the poetry editor for Wordgathering at Syracuse University and curates the Blind Academyblog. Her first bookNeoteny: Poems is available from Finishing Line Press. Find more at her website.