Posted by Ainslee Hooper
On October 6, 2020

Words have power – use them wisely.

Have you ever come across a poem that is so powerfully written that you feel completely overcome with emotion? Recently this poem was shared with me. Words so powerful, because I was reading something that echoed my own experiences. Words so powerful because I know I will never be in the way again, no longer that way.

IN THE WAY

copyright 1992 by Laura Hershey

Could you move, the waitress says,
politely of course,
you’re in the way.
A common request, my trusted wheelchair just
an impediment, an obstacle to the busy,
a clumsy roadblock I haul with me down every road
and when parked
an interruption
or at least a slowing down
of the life I only
wish to be part of; a piece of surplus furniture
in the already crowded rooms
of restaurants, bars, theaters.

Usually
I accommodate,
backing into corners
turning sideways
angling my wheels
to leave a clear path
asking, politely of course,
Is that better?

I get in the way
without trying.
I apologize
excuse myself
and move out of the way.

But not today.
Today I listen
to a small, recalcitrant voice inside
that insists:
Such power
should not be wasted.

If I alone can be so much
and so often in the way,
if I can create such worry among waitpersons
such consternation in concert halls
such alarm in the aisles
of grocery stores
just imagine the aggravation a dozen
or two dozen
or three hundred
people using wheelchairs can cause people
who would rather not see our needs
or hear our demands
or acknowledge our rights!
Just imagine!

Better yet, see me now!
See me block this doorway, plant my wheels firm,
see me lock my brakes!
No, I tell some bureaucrat
who wants to get into his office
so he can make decisions about my future.
No, I will not turn
I will not move over
I will not get out of your way
not until the police order me to, under threat of arrest
and maybe not even then!

In the way
in the way all day,
I woman this barricade which is mine
whenever I need it,
this roadblock I haul with me down every road,
this wall I can construct at will,
and be happily in the way with,
and say no with,
and plaster with scrawled signs about freedom,
and add to the bigger walls growing
around whole buildings, around whole city blocks.
I can turn back
customers, employees, delivery people, even cops.
I can keep the usually powerful
in or out of their offices.

I can be in the way
in the way
I can be in the way
my way.

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