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Struggle Dog

From The Disability files

Lined paper with "Struggle Dog a poem by Birdie" written in blue pen just beside the margin line.
Lined paper with "Struggle Dog a poem by Birdie" written in blue pen just beside the margin line.

For the last year, The Disability Files has existed as a monthly letter written by a guest artist from the Disability community, answering a question posed to them by a friend, colleague, or stranger. For this issue, we wanted to share a poem written by one of our members.


Dear reader,

I've finally settled on a poem for you.

It's called "Struggle Dog," and I wrote it about a dog called Daisy Mae, who passed away this summer at the age of 14 (old, for a big mutt like her). 

Daisy is part of my COVID bubble. I took care of her a lot during the last months of her life, during a time when I needed a lot of care too.

She teaches me that sometimes care is unpleasant (like her diarrhea weekend) and that, as my co-mentor Sean Lee says, disability is not isolated in the body.

I think Daisy Mae would agree that disability exists in the complicated space in between our bodies, where things like what Mia Mingus calls "access intimacy" are made.

I hope that you like it.

Thank you,
Birdie


Old brown dog 
my new therapist asked me 
if I love you so much 'cause 
sometimes, you wanna die too 

When I found you in the yard like that I
wonder now if I knew you were hurting
with only the calm clarity of someone
who protests like that too 

Old brown dog 
I think my new therapist 
is worth the money, 
like how when I see you sometimes and
there's new kinds of dog food on the counter.
You're not eating again, but I know that
buying you salmon and steak must be worth
the money too 

My old roommate said: 
old dogs are closer to God. 
I think I believe my old roommate 
in the way that Kai Cheng Thom 
says all trans women are witches 
and unfortunately, Caitlyn Jenner too

Old brown dog 
my new therapist asked me: 
so what if old dogs are closer to God? I think now I would tell you 
old dogs lead us to death 
and all that can happen when it happens
and when we hurt less, that's political too 

Old brown dog 
I know I don't know Leah
Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
either 
but I know that they say 
of dead trans girls 
that grief can be the garden. 
Oh, old brown dog 
do you see my protest? 
Do you know now I sleep 
with Care Work 
under my pillow too?

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