activism, autism

A Poem for Mel

in memory of Mel Baggs, 1980-2020, autistic self-advocate, teacher, friend, and unapologetic defender of human rights and the undeniable dignity of all people.

i don't remember if redwood trees grow in
memorial park across the street from de anza but
i'd like to think they do because
it would be almost fitting

if the parks weren't closed now in
some strange awful hell trapping us all i'd
go to memorial park near de anza and
say thank you to you in my language, which
resembles your language in that it
often scares others who don't speak it

let us talk about language and belonging in
our mutually intelligible dialects of
a language most people will never speak and
refuse to learn

i never knew how close we were until it was
too late to say hello because for me
physical geographic closeness is a form of grounding
connection between humans

when you were at de anza did you ever
walk down to visit the high school –
i know the mary street bridge
across the freeway wasn't built then – just because
it was there?

because i did the same
in reverse
so many times

oh i miss you a friend i never met more than words
could ever say i miss everything you were and are and i
am so grateful for what you did because i am less alone
so much less alone

and when this hell is all over i will go to
the redwoods the real redwoods up in the fog and
say thank you thank you and a blessing for you in
my language and i hope you will understand

if you’d like to sign and/or view the memorial guestbook for Mel Baggs, you can do so here.