Growing Up As a Blind Child

Through a one-way mirror, they eyed me,
Between us, their watchful eyes conceived the distance
And I began to lose definition.

I of the many translucent faces,
They sanded smooth my jagged edges
Painting them invisible with a missing shade of blue.

They glossed over my differences until I faded into the background
Molding my experiences so that they mapped onto their figures
Until I reflected their perspective thickly occluded.

They even tried to put an eraser
To that unusual glow that seemed to linger
Out of curiosity and the innocence of a child.

And my little ash child remembers their walls:
There were walls,
To keep her out, to contain her with,

But she saw through and far beyond them
How they were made for someone small, so she ignored and walked around them,
And the walls came tumbling down, and that is how they found them.

For a long time I searched for something to shelter me
Until with free hands I rebuilt my foundations,
And only then could I love what I made.

I’ve sought and found the knowledge
That they kept from me with stones.
I have survived their stares, I have stared back.

I have stood within the changing tides,
And learned the language of the wild song,
The one to which I’ve now come home, echoed in the blinking of an eye.

I rekindled trust as if I were tending the cauldron of Cerridwen
And in the river of memories I washed off the dust:
Why had I never seen myself before?

It was like repeating an unrecognizable name, until I realized it was mine.
It was like discovering I was a firefly,
When no one believed I could shine.

And now Across the bridge of overcoming,
I come bringing brokenness to light.
Bright beams alight along the road,

Pooling there like fallen stars, to guide my weary ash-child’s way.
Back through the darkness I reach out, the whole of her I carry in my arms,
And Whisper through her troubled dreams, I am here.

I who leapt among the flames, made it to the other side,
Tenderly I take hold of my ash child’s hand,
And into the blue, together we rise.

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4 thoughts on “Growing Up As a Blind Child

  1. Beautiful, Éilis! This is a very moving piece of writing about your childhood, not conforming, not fitting in, wondering who you are and where you belong, and then finding and nurturing yourself. I really enjoyed it, and the images you conjure.

  2. Thank you Ali! I was mainstreamed–as in went to public school–as a child and although it was the best decision, it had many challenges. One being I was constantly being watched and followed around by adults while other kids often pretended I wasn’t there. The authorities at the school tried everything to make me leave so that they wouldn’t have to financially support my education. But in the end I came out okay! 🙂 I hope maybe one day I can help raise awareness in schools about how to treat kids with disabilities. I wrote parts of this poem many years ago, but couldn’t finish it until this week when I realized I had all the once missing resources to finally complete it. 🙂

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