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we: disabled - audrey t carroll



we are baptized as burden

because our bodies are deemed

another person’s problem


because our bodies are doomed,

another person’s inconvenience


but by a jury of our peers, we

find ourselves again, made anew


speakers of a common tongue

do not have to enter so much

evidence to be considered


instead, we are fluent

(tired, but fluent):

spoons dynamic


flare gentle hugs


fog inspiration porn


these words are cognates, shifting

meaning from one culture

to the next, losing meaning

from one culture to the next

in a society that plays pretend


we are all one


a society that mimes inclusion

so long as we are silent, too


there are things we are not allowed

to crip (this ambiguous we meaning all

and nothing):


language


thought


sentiment


expectations


building entrances

(except where prohibited by law)


parking

(except where prohibited by law)


schools

(except where prohibited by law)


justice—


pretty nearly anything but

a body should not be cripped and—

to be clear—neither should a body be


and therein lies the dilemma:


pity (disability could be nobody’s choice

and thus Those People should engender

our deepest condolences for their bodyminds)


or


shame (we all have agency; disability is a choice,

a series of choices, a mindset, a refusal

to try harder and, therefore, your cripped

body is wrong, and you are the one at fault for it)


we might say these both


are errors incorrect misinformed


even mere shit opinions if we’re feeling spicy


but we disabled do not have a say


in such matters do not have a language


for such matters, or maybe—


maybe the language we have


simply doesn’t translate into Abled


Audrey T. Carroll is the author of the What Blooms in the Dark (ELJ Editions, 2024) and Parts of Speech: A Disabled Dictionary (Alien Buddha Press, 2023). Her writing has appeared in Lost Balloon, CRAFT, JMWW, Bending Genres, and others. She is a bi/queer/genderqueer and disabled/chronically ill writer. She serves as a Diversity & Inclusion Editor for the Journal of Creative Writing Studies, and as a Fiction Editor for Chaotic Merge Magazine. She can be found at http://AudreyTCarrollWrites.weebly.com and @AudreyTCarroll on Twitter/Instagram.

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