You might never have heard any poems about or by people with disability, that’s because you don’t give a stuff. You don’t give much and you definitely don’t give enough. Your life is about your friends and family, and if they don’t limp or walk with a cane, what have you got to gain, by helping anybody else. Don’t you know that charity begins at home, you can’t hear a whimper or a moan. On a good day, the blind might see, on a good day, you walk free from fear of falling down. On that good day, retribution is coming down, today.
Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey are the most famous poems about disability, because Achilles lipless and very bloody angry all the time. Priam is blind to his children’s failings and depressed. Odysseus is clearly tripping and probably psychotic. Greek poetry is primarily concerned with killing, buggery and incestual fucking. You have to ask the question, are we all disabled inside? Could that idea about us all being normal and the same be a lie? Do you know what your disability might be? What it looks like deep inside you? What is feels like deep inside?
Have you heard the one about the one armed woman and the one legged man? Together they entered the three legged, egg and spoon race and won. If they have children will they blessed or cursed with disability? Is what’s on the outside, the same as what’s on the inside? Do I imagine myself perfect, with an elegant sufficiency of arms and legs? What does the blind man see inside? Abraham, Moses and Noah all imagined an ominous awful being called God; today we would lock them up and sedate them for a very long time.
Gilgamesh mourned Enkidu, who was disabled, being merely human before his demi-god friend. Death is inevitable for us mortals, whether we have one or two working legs. Gilgamesh chats with a barmaid about the differences between being human and divine. Disability comes in many guises, as do ‘so-called’ divine beings. Odin only had one working eye, the other was covered with a patch. This gave him the gift of second sight. Odin would often appear as an old street bum, his power shrouded in rags. Nobody knew if they were conversing with the king of the gods or just an ancient. That’s the thing about disability, you never truly know who is the greater being beyond the disguise. Disability support in Australia at www.disabilitymacarthur.org.au.