Poem: Disability is the embodiment of living multiple truths at once

Part of self-care is examining the gifts we receive in the experience of who we are. Even with parts that we may not have to choice claim, that are thrust upon us, we learn these gifts as we go. Have you ever written a letter to a part of yourself that you’re not sure you understand? Have you ever written a poem about a part that you have had to grow in relationship with?

This morning this poem came. An expression of a part of myself, Disability, which I have long been in relationship with and yet, my understanding of continues to evolve.


Disability is the embodiment of living multiple truths at once.


It is the description of the ever-changing direction of the wind                                    

Nimble focus to which way one screams the loudest

It is both under-stimulation and overstimulation,

Not being touched for years and being touched too often without permission

It is the identity that in other’s eyes, overrules all of our other identities, even being poor.

Welcome to the equal playing field of the fear of vulnerability

It is living in everyone’s expectation that if they try; at access, at niceness, then that trying, for us, should be enough

Slivers of doubt become trusted tools

Can I do this? Will they be there? Is there space for the tides change of my shifting needs?

Be        prepared     for      anything.       Be        prepared      for      anything.

Unclenching my hyper-vigilance allows me to unfold my resting blanket of empathy

Many people rest here for a time

There is safety with the one who doesn’t belong

What they don’t realize is there is so much power in discovering how to not need to belong

It is a gift to understand that you can never fit in

And a gift to name for others that universal feeling of never fitting in


Disability is a forced exploration of every system Man has created to help those who can’t function in the Capitalist system

Or who need medical access, or who need help in their home, or for whom being in love is deemed inappropriate

Systematic excavation

We learn secret ways through concealed tunnels

We learn to be silent and take what we can find 


Disability is living multiple levels at once

Awareness, vulnerability, empathy, humor, anger, focus, creativity

It takes planning for me to be here

Embracing “sustainable”, instead of “healthy”, as the label of betterment

It is a harder task, asking what will keep one going, in a way that keeps giving


I don’t count on anyone being comfortable around me

Except maybe other Disabled people, and then only sometimes

We’ve convinced ourselves that disability is something we should peel off

Keep hidden in a box, even those who have no hope of hiding

We are taught that to acknowledge our complexity, is to ask to be excluded

It takes years to learn that this is their biggest mistake

That in our complexity lies our greatest strength

Claiming it can revolutionize the world

Weaving Disability as part of the revolutionary fabric

Of being a more human, human being,

It is a spherical bridge to everyone alive



 © 2014  Naomi Ortiz

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