At age nine, I didn’t think
I’d live past ten, or at most, eleven.
No blind eyes beckoned
from the screen on the TV in our den,
where I wrote Braille Christmas cards
to my best friend and Little Stevie Wonder.
Stevie was three whole years ahead of me
and made the kids clap and dance
on American Bandstand. Maybe
he’d get old–like Ray Charles.
I couldn’t sing any more
than the bad guys could shoot straight,
and everyone knew that only Ray,
among the sightless, was older than twelve.
But, I looked forward to my death,
why would I want to become ancient
like my mother, who I knew, was at least 17?
Everyone in town,
firemen, my friends in the Brownies,
every dog worth her salt,
would turn out for my funeral,
which would last nine innings
or even longer.
The crowd would be as huge
as the Beatles concert at Shea Stadium.
Nine, I felt, would be a good time to kick off.
I still believed in Santa,
my parakeet hung on to my every word,
I’d never get the curse or worry that I was queer.
If I got bored, I could fly like a fidgety bat
past the sun
through the nine planets
where God, white cane in hand, jumped rope
and I’d always be nine.
I came out,
snapping my fingers
in tune with my
lavender inner vision,
Sappho with her cane,
taking on the night –
a true-blue dyke
to watch out for –
You saw a sightless
damsel in distress,
at sea in the darkness,
sexy as a nun’s lingerie.
Uppity Writes on Tinseltown’s Facebook Wall
Gods of Milk Duds and Coca-Cola soaked endings,
from which sighted and unsighted emerge, blinking,
in the dark, my love life is a B picture with no
coming attractions. No alluring strangers,
just safe commuters on this train. When I woo
Grace Kelly, the lady vanishes. The gum
on the floor of your cineplexes sticks
to the soles of my ruby slippers.
Gods of pop-eyed paparazzi and strobe-lit carpet,
let me eat the Danish Audrey Hepburn wouldn’t touch,
don the dress Kate Hepburn wouldn’t wear,
dine with the company Garbo wouldn’t keep,
sing Garland to sleep during the restless night.
Let me be Frankie, dancing with Annette
on a beach blanket under starlight – no bingo –
before the mothers of America, until dawn,
when sighted and unsighted emerge into the light.
“Flying” originally appeared in the chapbook anthology Casting the Nines, Pudding House Press; “Uppity Writes on Tinseltown’s Facebook Wall” previously appeared in The Uppity Blind Girl Poems, BrickHouse Books. Reprinted with permission of the author.
Kathi Wolfe’s most recent collection, The Uppity Blind Girl Poems, winner of the 2014 Stonewall Chapbook Competition, was published in 2015 by BrickHouse Books. Wolfe is a contributor to the anthologies QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology and Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability. A Washington Blade contributor, Wolfe was a 2008 Lambda Literary Foundation Emerging Writer Fellow. To read more by this poet: Five Poems, Winter 2006; Two Poems, Split This Rock Issue, Winter 2008.