Disability and Representation

Changing the Cultural Conversation

For My Crip Body: A Love Song

For my crip body with its aching hips

the unexpected pain

that radiates into belly and legs and spine

the signals that suddenly don’t reach knees


For this body, I offer praise upon praise.


For the exhaustion of ears that cannot filter

one sound from another

words of laughter, anger, boredom, joy

fragments of everyday stories

talk about children and weather and

racism and baseball


all equally embraced and resisted

by a mind that doesn’t know

what background noise

even means


For this body, I sing halleluyah.


For watching your speech form words in my head

for reading the words in an endless stream

for inscribing my words on the parchment of my mind

for forming painstaking speech out of just the right ones

just as you’ve started talking about something else


For this body, I give thanks.


For the tenacity of thought

that hikes through canyons and across

winding trails

searching for something new in the


at 3 o’clock in the morning when

all I want to do is, please God, let me sleep


For this body,

I pour out my love.


For the days that I cannot find words

for the days that the colors won’t translate

for the days that the verbal torrents come

and my words somersault and backflip

and wind in circles around themselves


For the days I long to talk like you


like you, whose thoughts become speech

like arrows that never fail to find their mark,

effortlessly, it seems,

while you are doing ten other things

as though it were nothing

as though it were the easiest thing ever


Before this body, my body, I stand in awe.


Does it surprise you

that I praise this body?

Does it surprise you that I love it so?


I will not hate this body my mother gave me

this body that that caresses, that comforts, that reassures,

that sustains other bodies

that bore exquisite life.


Why should I cast it out of the circle of love?


My body fights, it curses, it cries

it pours out words of outrage and grief and hope.


Why should I not hold it close?


This body

My body

The one you call broken

The one I have always known.


© 2013 by Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg


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