Thought Wheel

From the mind of Ann Chiappetta

The Year of Revising, Re-Writing WOLF

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Hello, all. I am going through my older poems and revising them for possible inclusion in a chapbook I am planning to publish. This is the first one I am debuting. Enjoy, and, of course, thoughts welcome.

     WOLF

© 1998 Ann Chiappetta

 

Alpine paws track

prey accented air

Amber eyes assess the old and weak

lupine aptitude

interprets signals carried upon the wind

Canine strategy overcomes

As jaws

quiets heaving lungs

 

the hunt is merciful

only the fit survive

 

Circular patterns shine in eyes

Imbued with untamed wisdom

of wilderness and voices echoing

from the ridge lines

 

eerie timbre, bittersweet

 

Not so far from human cries

heard in the distance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s Christmas Eve and I’m home after a full day’s work, although it wasn’t a taxing endeavor. Answering the phone and doing a little paperwork made a light day of it. In fact, the entire day has been dragging along, first with the damp, warm, unseasonal weather, the quiet streets, and now the quiet house (except when the dogs bark, that is).

 

I just ordered and brought in the Chinese food. When I gave the delivery guy a $20 tip, saying,

“This is for you, Merry Christmas,” and showed him the bill, he said,

“For real?”

I nodded, “Yes,” and gave it to him.

His gratitude was just the most heartfelt and beautiful thing I think I’ve heard from a stranger in a long time and it makes me feel so good inside.

 

Earlier today, I curbed Bailey in the street outside my office and didn’t pick it up, knowing it is dangerous to bend over at dusk to do so. Some woman was walking past and I heard her say,

“Will you look at that, she’s notpicking it up,”

I’m not sure why, but it annoyed me. I said,

“I’m not picking it up because I’m blind and it’s dangerous for me. Besides, if it’s in the street, the law here says I don’t have to because I’m blind.”

She just strolled past and said nothing. At first, I felt guilty, then angry. I mean, people litter, spit, and do some gross things in this city. Here I am, trying to keep my dog’s waste of the sidewalk where I’m advised to go and here comes a critic.

 

I irritably chewed on it until I got home.

 

When I gave the delivery guy the big tip, my anger at this woman dissolved. I paid it forward and once I came back inside and put down the food, I thought of how proud my Mom would have been and I started to cry. I miss her so very much, wish she was still here, and next time someone like that stranger gets to me, I will remember that a little poo in the street does not matter in the big scheme of things. I think Mom would get a wry chuckle from it, and that’s what I’m going to accept. I love and miss you, Mary.

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Like other people living with vision loss, I am often faced with the lack of access to everyday tasks and items necessary to perform my job. Sometimes it’s a physical barrier and sometimes it’s virtual. Early on, when I first began using a personal computer with text-to-speech software, the availability of accessible materials, programs, and websites were limited. That was back in 1995 and since then, so much has changed for the better.

 

Despite the virtual evolution and the removal of electronically based barriers, the lack of access still exists, especially in the workplace. Generally, the talk in the blindness community is most often focused on accessibility issues and it’s because when we know something is easy and useful to us, we use it, and even come to rely upon it to a much greater degree of dependence compared to a person without vision loss.

 

I could go on and write pages of examples of being both supported and let down by high and low technology and visual aids but that is for another day. I want to share something not many employers are sensitive to: blind employees not being able to fill out assessment forms privately. For years now, I’ve been required to fill out a form after a site visit from the regional manager and I cannot access the electronic document with my technology. I am forced to sit through the reading of the form by the RM and having them scribe for me. This isn’t too weird for check boxes and scaling questions, but when it comes to the written comments, I do not feel comfortable verbalizing what I want to write down myself. Doing this on the fly puts me at a serious disadvantage compared to my sighted colleagues because someone else is writing and I can’t type it out or make sure it’s what I really want to say. My colleagues get to fill out the form in private, so I should be afforded the same process.

It’s like being given a pair of shoes with paper stuffed in the toes to make them fit; they are awkward and just don’t do the job.

 

It may seem that this means little in the big scheme of things compared to what I can achieve independently and I don’t wish to say otherwise – yet, when the yearly site visit time comes I dread the task. This time, I am going to attempt an alternative to that confounding form and hope I can give the RM a form I have filled out on my own. It will be different and perhaps be a bit unconventional in appearance but I will let the RM know that if I have to spend extra time and effort to complete the form, then his staff must make allowances as well. I’m not sure it will catch on, but I’m going to give it the old college try.

 

And, this leads me to another related access issue that is so often overlooked: the extra time and effort we take to meet the standards set by people without vision loss. I hope the folks who are reading this who are free of a visual limitation gain some insight to the fact that it takes us longer to cross the street, feel comfortable in new places, and manage our lives just to keep up appearances.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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