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  • Reanna - One Inky Queer

Asking

By Reanna – One Inky Queer


This poem was commissioned by Disability Arts Online.




knew to ask the world for what I needed as a baby I think

and didn’t know to be grateful

then lost the asking skill along the way

maybe after my part of the world stopped listening




started asking again illness forced

couldn’t get the words out

could scarcely form the thought




need kept pushing though so I asked

the first time

no one heard I was tolerated with quiet sniping a ghost in that house

I heard me

perceived weakness

stung like bees




pain biting I asked

a second time

disabled friends heaven sent a label I could not own yet

listened above the deafening clamour of shrugging doctors

advice

signs

hope

shared precious capacity

given freely

I was so grateful

so ashamed




sometimes migraines stole my asking ability

away on an aphasic wave

partners noticed if they were there

rescues much needed from “normal” social spaces

other times I cowered alone on toilet floors

only noticed when I wasn’t doing my job





words recovered I asked more urgently

a third time

attack afeared career hanging

in

the

balance


meetings

token gestures

colleague bullying ignored

guilt-tripping

for small concessions

for every sick day


and they waited waited waited

drying me

on

the

line

until I had enough gave up and left




fine then!

I’d had it with asking

self-employed I’d rely on

no one but me

they’d see! was always independent


cue 14 hour days

2 jobs

in 5 different places

hours on transport and delays

cue more sick days

except now they’re unpaid

still wheedling agents complained

tutee families understood

at least

as I got sicker

sicker

sicker

downward spiral

no energy

so didn’t eat

or the shop went hungry

the kitchen ‘cause I

couldn’t reach


about this I kept my mouth shut mostly

at least visited by a blooming distant

love so I was happy exhausted

happy exhausted

happy exhausted



desperate I asked

a final / first time

and was heard

moved in with them

their parents helped

their cooking care

proportional rent

charities aided benefits

all these things at their stations meant

time and space to breathe I could take care of me ask less

be more



I still ask

on occasion

each time greeted with

help received guiltily

or reluctant acceptance

or infuriating ignorance

or bullying and ableism

or self-assurance I’m worth asking for




tell me are you grateful?

as you rise from your bed

when lights don’t pierce your head

are you grateful every single time?

if not do you still expect mine?



I’m not saying that I’m not grateful I’m just asking



 

In the last year, Reanna has been published in Joyful Noise, Aghh zine and been commissioned by Disability Arts Online, for whom they also blog poetic essays. They have performed at Hammer & Tongue, Words by the Water, Horseplay, Pier Poetry, The Actors and Rebel Soapbox. They also co-host a regular queer and trans poetry group @PoetryMeetQT.