I am not a man with wheels,
                although it is the wheels you see
                when I roll in.

                I am not a chair that speaks.
                Still, you are surprised to hear
                a voice come from this chair,

                as if perhaps, a miracle,
                I suddenly had healed, and next
                would stand and walk.

                I am not chairbound,
                confined to a wheelchair, or
                physically challenged;

                I will not be defined
                by my appliances:
                rendered by my limitations.

                I am not some kind of
                disabilities recruiter, nor is my
                lack of leg power

                contagious. But you back up
                as I speak,
                as though you might

                have something I would take
                if I could reach it.
                Oddest of all: the way

                you race to grab your children,
                shoving them aside, crying
                "look out, Suzie...Billy please!"

                as if I'd planned
                to run one down.
                The kids are better.

                Many stare but most just say hello
                the first time, before they're
                snatched away.

                Children see in me a grownup who
                will meet their eyes, and wink,
                and mean it; who rides

                a funny indoor car;
                their look is curiosity,
                as they have yet to live

                those bleak grey mornings of the soul
                that shadow us down with the prospect
                of our dying.

                They've never stared at death,
                and so they do not misconstrue
                that I am in some way

                connected; serve somehow
                as death's signpost, its harbinger,
                its minion.

                I've heard many times:
                "I hope that I go quickly,
                and not end up that way,

                stuck in a wheelchair," to which
                my only answer must be to say
                then, go ahead.

                And in the end, I will be who I am,
                and not just what I do,
                and I am not resigned

                to be defined by what
                I use to
                get things done,

                for what you see of me may
                reveal more of the observer
                than it informs of the observed.

                I know you say
                you only want to help,
                and I would never ask so much

                as that you smile, but it will be
                enough for now, at least if you
                will gently move aside.