Self Portrait, by SAMANTHA ABEEL
To show you who I am
I crawled inside a tree, became its roots, bark and leaves,
listened to its whispers in the wind.
When fall came and painted the leaves red and gold
I wanted to shake them across your lawn
to transform the grass into a quilt, a gift spread at your
but their numbers eluded me,
so I turned a piece of paper into my soul
to send to you so that you might see
how easily it can be crumpled and flattened out again.
I wanted you to see my resilience,
but I wasn’t sure how to arrange the numbers in your
so I danced with the Indians in the forest
and collected feathers that fell from the eagle’s wings,
each one a wish for my future,
but I lost track of their numbers, gathered too many,
and was unable to carry them home
so I reaped the wind with my hair,
relived its journey through my senses, and
felt its whispered loneliness, like lakes in winter,
but it was too far and you could not follow me.
Now I’ve written out their shadows
like the wind collects its secrets
to whisper into receptive ears, and I
will leave them at your doorstep,
a reminder of what others cannot see,
a reminder of what I can and cannot be.
From “Reach for the Moon” by Samantha Abeel, watercolors by Charles R. Murphy. (Pfeifer-Hamilton Publishers: $17.95; 48 pp.) In eighth grade Samantha Abeel was recognized as learning disabled. Special education meant that she could, as she puts it, “raise her hand and say ‘I don’t get it.’ ” Her message to other disabled children in this book is: “Find what you love, what you’re good at, and then do it. Never let your disability stop you from doing what you are good at or want to do.” 1994 Reprinted by permission.