Years ago, when
a Gift of God came into the world;
into the hands of an old people;
gatekeepers of a culture;
a pointed skull and curved back
The chief, traditional healer or her father
lifted the panga to some obscure deity;
a sickening whack, her spirit flew.
For the sake of sacrosanctity,
that village, from time immemorial,
had not raised a marked child.
No record was made of her passing.
Our Gift of God comes in a teaching hospital;
bastion of cesarean births—so many these days.
After twenty-four hours of labor,
she is born alert, then, does not move or cry.
Two sickening whacks by a purple-gloved hand,
she reenters society.
A pointed skull is reshaped;
a mild round back is not found remarkable.
Legion grow her impairments resulting from
kyphosis, scoliosis, and respiratory ailments.
Inherited maladies abound.
In early months, she never crawls.
Resilient, she rolls on the floor
touching that which is alluring.
She rises a little late in toddling time.
She fights for her place in the world.
The world fights back!
Amidst the tumult of daycare, she is silent,
teachers and other parents take no notice.
Her single-parent father,
an older adult with disabilities, ponders.
Is this mere shyness or an augur of distress?
Hand in hand, her disabilities consort
with poverty along life's journey.
Safeguards and social systems buckle.
Already gaping mouths widen;
"excepts" and "but-fors" prevail;
the powerless are blamed and marginalized.
Top-down, the system selects,
passes the buck, washes its hands without ceremony.
The costs of consults outweigh cash in hand.
Victim shunning and suspicion reign
in the quest for requisite health care.
Congress cuts; Social Security denies...
White coats'— dignified, aloof...inculpable—
staffs collect copays with credit-killing efficiency.
While running the gamut of alternatives,
the lure of isolation finally loses its seduction.
The path to failure fades.
She will not be among those who morally crawl.
Tho', not a babe, rolling, where they will not walk.
In faith, she rises in her time.
Capped and decked in a blue gown,
Diploma in hand, cum laude.
Heaven acknowledges her passing!
She takes her place in the world!