There’s an incredible poem I’d like to share with you tonight: Monet Refuses the Operation, by Lisel Mueller. It’s about everything one can see when ‘normal’ sight is taken away; it’s about seeing the beauty in what remains, rather than mourning what we have lost.
As such, it’s my favorite poem about physical disability.
It also reminds me of a question I was asked at Vassar, by English professor Kiese Laymon: why do you write?
It took our Composition class 2 one-hour sessions to answer it (we each had a turn to speak personally, and to respond to other people’s answers.) Even so, I stand by what I said then: I write to see what is left within people, within myself, when everything they hold to falls away. I keep returning to stories in which characters are laid bare, hopes are laid waste, and dreams are deferred. Given that, what do I write about?
I write about what remains.
I could call that the Holy Spirit. I could call it the soul. I could call it the genius or the daemon.
I could call it love, or faith, or hope.
Or, I could simply let Mueller’s words be my prayer for us. This is my prayer for the times when we (inevitably) lose sight of ‘that which remains’:
“If only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.”