Emily K. Michael
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.
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.
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.
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.