Emily K. Michael


Listen to the audio version.

I sit straight-backed in a broken desk
     the only seat I can find
    without tripping on huddled backpacks
or catching my white cane in their straps.

Madame glides down the rows, dropping tests in her wake
I* put up my hand —
    my exam unread.

"La pauvre," she sighs.

"Your paper, it's in my office. I made in
     the large font but forgot
to bring with the rest."

I give my understanding nod. And she promises
to rush upstairs for "the special test."

Pens scratch around me. I register
     discomfort — and learn to wait
palms flat on the desk.

* Author's note for "Lingua Franca": Students with disabilities who seek reasonable accommodation in the classroom or other aspects of their coursework must first register at the disability resource office.



Listen to the audio version.

It captures the sound of the earth,
creaking with the burden of revolution,
and the roots of great trees reaching deep inside,
curling round the axis. It sounds the dappled,
the luminous golden-green of thick foliage, of sunlight
lapping against wide, aged trunks. It rises,
richly sonorous, and pulls at each filament
of the spirit with familiar notes— the soft timbre
sliding like warm honey into perception. Thick, supple,
sweet, an old voice lives in the wood and the strings,
a cantor of primal invocations, of heart-melodies.
Tracing the gnarled bark and the wandering roots
to set the world reeling for rebirth.



Listen to the audio version.

A long draped table hosts five blind guests, two microphones, one moderator:
a last supper strewn with free pencils, insufficient paper, and clear water glasses.

In reaching for the only microphone that still works my partner threatens
to send his decorous goblet tinkling to the floor — its thousand shards

a dark promise for the paws of our assembled guide dogs. A second swipe
for the mic brings the glass an inch from peril, so he hands it to me.

I place it out of reach before the empty chair at my right. No one mentioned
the glasses when we sat down. No one filled the water jug. No one brought

an extra microphone, so we pass the good one back and forth, rustling
the heavy mic stand along the disposable tablecloth, clinking the cord

against the overturned water glasses, bracing ourselves for the feedback.


"Cello" was originally published in Artemis Journal; "Inside Jokes" was first published in The Fem.


Emily K. Michael is a blind poet, musician, and writing instructor from Jacksonville, FL. Her poetry and essays have appeared in Wordgathering, The Hopper, The South Carolina Review, The Deaf Poets Society, Nine Mile Magazine, BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog, and AWP Writer's Notebook. Michael's work centers on ecology, disability, and music. Find more of her work at her blog On the Blink. Her first book Neoteny: Poems is available for pre-order from Finishing Line Press.