life in all its fullness
When I was born, (and grateful that I was,
For one in two of us don’t see the light of day;
Never know love, or hurt, or faith, because
Some fear too much what others say).
I wonder, was I made for this?
Today I felt no ignorance in bliss.
Today I wondered whether I was meant.
Today was my big day and this is how it went:
The doctor, kindly, clicked his tongue,
(His kindly, coffee, tongue), and placed
His kindly hand on me. “You’re young,”
He said, (so kindly). “When you’ve faced
Some of life’s slings and arrows…well…”
He paused, and sought for kindly words
To sentence me to kindly hell –
(Words like, ‘support.’) “You know, two thirds
Of people with your …” (Kindly eyes,
Searching for kind ways to apologise).
I didn’t understand him, but I sensed
That things were going badly. My lips tensed.
My heart was doing thunder and my chest
Ballooned to bursting. He was not impressed.
I must have screamed. Or hit him. Either way,
He noted something down in THICK, BLACK, INK.
That’s when I felt my faith begin to sink.
Because I’ve seen those words before –
That kind concern that only doctors draw.
Because they do not look, they do not see
The me inside. Their disability
Is calling me ‘disabled.’ When they tabled
You for screening, I was screaming, “Please!
Please, let me live, and love you! Let me give,
You joy!” I hope I did? Or did you want a boy?
Sorry I took your lipstick and your dress
That time – the first time I tried to impress
The boys at school. Tried to be cool.
I know I got it wrong.
Just wanted to belong.
That’s what I told the doctor, but he said –
Clasping his fingers, kindly (which were stained
Yellow, with nicotine) – He said…
He said, “Now that your mother’s d– ”
The word hung like an icicle. So cold.
I put my tongue out just to feel its bite.
This must have made things worse.
“I think I’ll recommend you to a home.
There, you’ll have care.”
“Will they choose what I wear?”
The words came slowly. I was looking down
At my mismatching socks. (I miss your help.
I need help. Sometimes. Often. But I know,
Who I can ask. And when. Cause I can grow).
And then I told him all about that day
I first went shopping on my own, and you –
I saw you, standing, in disguise – some way
Behind the lamppost – with sunglasses on;
Praying, I think, for me to carry on.
The kindly pity vanished from his eyes.
He took down a dusty volume from the shelf – a tome
Of Shakespeare – read from Hamlet. Said, “What is the harm
In one more syllable? Or extra chromosome?”
And as he closed the book, I was made free!
I’m only sorry you weren’t there to see.
But I will carry you, as you did, me.
And live in joy, now, independently.
"I'm not sure how to put into words the effect this story had on me...[but] I am a better person for having had the experience of reading this. Thank you." - NYC Midnight Judge #2206
"The ending of the story was really beautiful - I got goosebumps as the doctor closed the book and the girl was "made free". This was a really thought-provoking and powerful poem. " - NYC Midnight Judge #1943.