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Blindness Locked Me Out

By Emily K. Michael

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.



Listen as Emily K. Michael reads "Blindness Locked Me Out".

Added: Thursday, May 27, 2021  /  Used with permission. From "Neoteny: Poems" (Finishing Line Press, 2019).
Emily K. Michael
Photo by Chelsea Whiteman.

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 Academy blog. Her first book Neoteny: Poems  is available from Finishing Line Press. Find more at her website.

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