Robin leads me to the night’s festivity over buckled
sidewalk, through winter chill and into chimney scent.
If she slips away, all that will remain is her cherry
Chapstick on my lips, the white cane in my right hand,
and those lottery balls – of diabetes and kidney transplant
pills – tumbling in my stomach.
Writer-editor Robin’s direction is concise, essential.
“Branch.” She ducks. my hand tags along, then the rest
of me follows. “We’re clear,” she says.
My left palm on her Anne Taylored shoulder, strands
of her hair on my knuckles, she navigates me through
the Philadelphia suburb of toppled trashcans and
jutting hedges. She’s not seeing the Poltergeist sky or
the Dali-esque trees playing behind my blanked
screens. Instead, she directs me across a street and
cautions “snausages” when we are back on the
sidewalk. dog shit, foreclosed eyes, never an easy
Soon, we are at the house where the writers’ salon
will take place. inside are wordsmiths with mis-
functioning limbs, with shorted-out eyes, others with
damaged processors. I’m all grouse and grumble
and, “I don’t want to join the defective doll party.”
Robin says her, “You are my hero, Seansy.”
And I say my, “I’m stuck in the burning house.
You are the one who ran in.”
Tonight’s disability salon should be one of shared
stories: loss, longing, jigging away in our leg braces.
But I’m more in the mood to have quads throw
Molotovs, blind guys slug tinted Limo windows,
spokesmen with Tourette’s voice our lives of relentless
“Ready, Sport?” robin says as we head for the door.
* * *
Inside, there’s the handshake dance with a blind
essayist, a team-greet from an autistic poet and his
bedraggled but devoted stepmother. Robin and
I duck into a bedroom, ditch our coats and play endocrinologist.
She shows me hers – the talking blood
glucose meter in her purse. I show her mine – the
insulin vial and syringe in my pocket. There’s a
swabbing of fingers, a pricking of blood, and then
a jab of needle to my abdomen. We emerge, just
another Saturday night couple at a party.
We catch up with memoirist Rachel and dig right
into archeology, paleontology, autobiography – all the
cracked pots and T-rex fibulas from which we
reconstruct our lives.
A “Hi, I’m Ona,” emerges from the party’s white
noise and I’m soon holding a poet’s hand in mine.
I try to remember her disability. Are her fingers bent?
What would that mean? But her hand lies so delicately,
so femme fatale, that I have a growly Sinatra kind
of feeling. I want to say “Well, aren’t you the little
heartbreaker?” Is this wrong?
I say, “Nice to finally meet you,” and she says “I’ve
heard so much about you,” or maybe it’s the other
Beside me, the bespectacled harem-of-my-heart
hands back my Diet Pepsi, as if to say, “Well, go get
We gather in the living room and take turns reading,
clockwise. Headphones on, a blind essayist cursors
through his boyhood remembrance swinging for
this thing called “Moon.” Ona recollects her girlhood
classmates mocking, mimicking limp. The autistic
poet points at a keyboard, and his stepmother inter-
prets poems about her long-deceased husband. The
man lives on between them.
Our stories pad through the room, shelter cats
scratching at doors to roam the hood.
Next up, Robin reads my summer-of-the-lovelorn
essay. it’s the early nineties, I’m the sighted boardwalk
clown and my legumey object of desire is a confection
store Mrs. Peanut. I honk my horn, madam peanut
taps her cane. the writers’ salon chuckles at the
courtship of the Abled.
Robin returns the evening to its upright position,
reads her account of one of my emergencies. The
blood streaming from one of my useless eyes. My
resisting a call to the paramedics. The ER doc re-
moving the offending shard. Through her words, I
care for this character Sean in ways I refuse to when
I’m loose, off the page. And I’m surprised how
frail her Sean is in her words, even as the evening’s
strawberries disquiet my stomach.
* * *
Afterward, we drive poet Dave and his leashed eyes
Rudder home. robin is pre-GPS, the dog is harumph-
ing on the floor, and it’s starting to spritz rain.
“Let’s take Route 1,” I say. “I know the area. I’ve
driven the area.”
Dave pines, “You’ve driven?” He boots his Braille
palm device and connects it to a modified navigator.
I hear muffled mutterings from tiny speakers, then,
“My GPS says take Route 30.”
We take route 30.
Dave announces landmarks. “There’s an IHOP on
the left,” he says. “Burger king on the right.”
The rain worsens.
“Coming up on a Dunkin Donuts,” Dave says.
Soon, we are on the highway under heavy rain and
then a stretch that is under repair. Robin says, “I hope
Rudder can take over.” Her tone is wheel-grip tight.
She brakes more than she accelerates.
By the time we reach Dave’s place, the weather
settles and Robin sees the poet safely up to his door,
leaving me in the passenger seat, my fears at the
wheel. I am alone, worldless if it weren’t for the water
torture drip-drip. I am a child in a carseat waiting
for mom. I’m seated on a gurney in an underfunded
morgue. I’m in a cut scene from the movie Alien.
Maybe Robin and Dave are at his threshold,
whispering words of arousal to each other: arugula,
jalapeno, Pacific shucked oysters.
Where is she?
The car door opens. Robin climbs in, breathless,
says, “We were at the wrong house.”
“The dog didn’t know?”
I feel the warm breath of her stare. She gives a
“How do we get back home from here?” Her sincerity
is the gift wrap. So what if i pocket all her ribbons?
“Make three rights, go up two blocks, then a left.”
My inadequacies diminish to fleas as we guide each
other home along roads that will always be bedrizzled,
poorly illuminated, and under repair.