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To the Teachers Who Accept Me and My Disability

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I’ve always loved writing poems. Whether they are acrostic, haikus or limericks, I have always written poems with ease. I especially love showing them to my teachers and submitting them to school newspapers. During the Japan unit in Social Studies, we had a packet in which there was an article about haikus, so one of the questions in the packet was to write your own. The teacher graded them during class, and when she got to mine, she loved it so much, she read it out loud! I loved the recognition I got that day for my haiku.

Some of my fondest memories of middle school include sitting in the library during Work Study during the winter, writing poems as I watched the snow fall from the giant windows. Poems have always been super meaningful to me. Since the beginning of this school year, I have been working on my most meaningful poem yet, and I’m ready to share it with the world.

I’d like to dedicate this poem to all the teachers who have made a meaningful impact on my life by seeing me, not just my disability, not ignoring my disability, but all of me.

Look at me, teacher,
What do you see?

Do you see my hazel eyes, strong, yet care-worn?
Do you see the lines under my eyes, born of stress and anxiety?
Do you see the dried tears, from a bully or rude teacher?
Do you see my golden-brown hair, hastily swept in a messy ponytail?
Do you see my bright smile, a bit too bright to not be hiding some pain?

Do you see my shoulders, tensed even if I don’t notice it?
Do you see my chest, tightening from the fear of another group project?
Do you see my arms, the skin rough from not having the energy to use lotion?
Do you see my hands and wrists, cramping and spasming from finishing a long writing assignment?
Do you see my legs, hurting from gym class?
Do you see my feet, constantly moving with nervous energy?

Do you see me holding my head in my hands, my neck too weak to support it?
Do you see me listening to you but with my eyes closed, my eyelids too tired to stay open?
Do you see me standing, barely able to stop myself from swaying?
Do you see my messy handwriting, my fingers too weak to hold a pencil correctly?
Do you see me trying to breathe deeply, attempting to control the terror I feel when you said the word “essay”?
Do you see my twirling my wrists and ankles, trying to ease the pain?

Do you see my eyes light up, excited that you’re letting me read my book in class?
Do you see my patience, putting up with the most annoying partners and groups?
Do you see my kindness, lending pens and paper to anyone who needs it?
Do you see my focus, trying to absorb every word you say?
Do you see my intelligence, my hand shooting up with every question?
Do you see my excitement to learn, my pen and paper out at the beginning of each class?
Do you see my love for what you teach, applying it to my own life?

Do you see me?
A person?
A body, mind, and soul?
A heart?

Or do you see something else?
A student ID?
A grade?
A disability?

Tell me, teacher,
What do you see?

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Originally published: June 13, 2017
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