feels sharp as swords or stones. I am no saint.
I have wanted to write about this for so long, but am completely daunted by the task. How do I get it across, the way words can hurt you, can hurt the ones you love?
I have tried to post about this on my blog. I have tried to put it in an essay. But so far, all I have managed is a few lines in a poem, the poem which provided the title of both my blog and my first collection of poems, "Saint Nobody." It refers to an actual incident, less than a year after my daughter Stella was diagnosed at birth with Down syndrome, and I suddenly found myself a new world, or at least a new country--the sort of experience that Emily Perl Kingsley describes as landing in Holland when you thought you were headed on a trip to Italy.
My friend had even heard me talk about the language of disability, the way certain words set my teeth on edge. She knew that "mentally challenged" or "developmentally delayed" were the "right" words to use. But somehow she forgot--she couldn't help it, because "retarded" sprung easily to her lips, as it always had to mine.
Since then it has come to sting less and less, and I admit that I (and Stella's father) have slipped and used it ourselves from time to time--I sometimes joke privately that my daughter has Down syndrome, but I'm the one who is "retarded."