Written by Michael Brockley
My Hillcroft workshop coaches brag about my smile. Say I’m famous for baseball caps and bling. Today, I’m wearing a silver chain with a “B” at the bottom. Another with an “A” for my girlfriend’s name.
Everywhere I go, I shake a buddy’s hand. I shoot hoops for Special Olympics. Swim and bowl for fun. I buy my own polo shirts. My own tickets. Ride the bus anywhere I need to go in Muncie.
The job coaches assign me contracts for gauging gold. The top pay. And Mr. Anderson at the Y snapped his fingers to hire me on the spot. I’ve cleaned there fourteen years.
My type of cerebral palsy tightens muscles. I struggle to straighten my arms. Never learned to tie shoelaces. Rode my first bike when I was seventeen after Riley doctors operated to reverse the tendons in my legs. All those trips with my mother to Indianapolis, singing with the King of Pop and the Godfather of Soul.
At Morrison Mock school, speech therapists cheered while I talked through the peanut butter on my tongue. My mother tugged at a towel I clenched in my mouth to strengthen my jaws. Nothing worked as we’d hoped. I don’t point to pictures of KISS in a book of favorite things or rely on a talking machine to speak my mind.
When asked about the wrestler I root for, I swipe my hand before my face. Then write “JO” on the tabletop for the wrestler who makes himself invisible. As a boy, I watched The A-Team on TV. Now I wear ear studs like Mr. T. A high school wrestling championship ring my mother found. Michael Jordan chains. Dollar signs. And cause bracelets for Jesus Lives, Alter Ego Comics and Breast Cancer Awareness. I decorate my room with Spiderman gadgets. Web-slinger reds and blues.
When my mother came home with the twins. I counted them to make sure Ball Memorial had sent both my brothers with her.
I’ve seen the ghost of Elvis in Memphis and our greatest presidents carved into a mountain side. Listen to the music of heroes. The faces of all of my watches are encircled with diamonds.
Michael Brockley has been writing poems since he was a boy with a burr hair cut in Connersville, Indiana. He has written poems for three Facing Projects.
This story originally appeared in Facing Disabilities in East Central Indiana, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Hillcroft Services in Muncie, Indiana.