Disability can be found everywhere in history once you learn to look for it. President Lincoln’s depression lead him to abandon the White House for several days. When he returned he unveiled the Emancipation Proclamation to his startled cabinet.
Lincoln’s moodiness allowed him to reflect on the value of life and on what was right. That’s Lincoln’s story. Not all who are bi-polar have the moral qualities of Lincoln. And not all depressed people ask themselves what the nature of suffering can teach them. Yet after a certain age one finds this caste of mind is important. What does it mean to feel my heart is ripped out and is now under my shoe? The proper tears, those mixed with luck, tell us to walk for a time because weeping can be a map. Maps, all maps, are born of agonies. One sees disability wisdoms are not often or probable in textbooks. Look for the stains at the paper’s edges.
As a poet I like the margins.
There are so many minutes for which no proper names exist. Deep in the night I carved my name on a seed. Now I’ve awakened outside the broken temple.
Mr. Lincoln I am sad this morning.
I’m thinking of these lines by Cesar Vallejo, the great Peruvian poet:
“There are blows in life so violent—I can’t answer!
Blows as if from the hatred of God; as if before them,
the deep waters of everything lived through
were backed up in the soul … I can’t answer!”
(translated by Robert Bly)
Oh I can’t answer but I’m searching the corrugated quick of the page.