Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Body Encounters Barrier, or Stairs (Not a Metaphor)

for CJ Rosenquist

               In the current, secretly intentional, house
          there is: cope
     with condition itself (cannot be
underestimated). There is

               Barrier. There is encountering
          Barrier. There is struggle
     to negotiate Barrier, while being
watched. There is kindly-meant offer

               to help (almost always
          appreciated). There is kindly-meant, but
     no-asking first “help”
that often involves non-consensual

               touch. There is hyper-visibility     of Body
          and in-visibility of person-
     hood (a neat paradox
conjured by inaccessibility). There

               is: don’t observably feel anything,
          about any piece, which equals choke
     down snake of shame, muscle
grown in the jungle of un-

               intentionality. There is, during all:
          cheerfully, patiently, what is apparently un-
     fruitfully educate, while “performing”
Disability in public.

Go ten clicks, repeat. But

when the roof, walls, windows,
when the floor, floorboards, foundation,
when the cup of land
that holds house is
love, is welcome, when the nakedly
intentional shelter
is access, for body,
disability, and/or Black, Brown,
Trans, Nonbinary,
Queer, Muslim, fat,
elder, child, carbon-based
and breathing, valued simply
for being, and never demand
for government document,

there is no Barrier,
no encounter of
it, no being watched,
only aid, consent,
no shame, never blame.
Visibility, right-sized, equals
neighbor, not snake,
repeat of this life is clean
skate on frozen lake.

Imagine, the beloved who needs
assistance vacuuming saliva
from her mouth always
has a willing hand
holding hose, back-up
heart, whose intention is
set on weatherproof

interdependence.
This is the house,
the land, the world
of access, of welcome,
of here, you belong here.

Credit


Copyright © 2020 by Tara Hardy. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 31, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem


“This poem is written in the intersectional, anti-capitalist spirit of Disability Justice in which every body is valued not just for what it can produce. It is in response to negotiating a world in which I, and other People with Disabilities, encounter barriers to access every day. It is in solidarity with a friend with whom I grieve over the ways able-bodied people lock us out.”
Tara Hardy

Author


Tara Hardy

Tara Hardy’s most recent book, My, My, My, My, My (Write Bloody Publishing, 2016) won a 2017 Washington State Book Award. She is faculty at Evergreen State College and lives in Seattle, Washington.

Date Published: 2020-01-31

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/body-encounters-barrier-or-stairs-not-metaphor