I remember the schoolyard at St. Michael’s,
named after the protector saint,
the sun burning the patchy grass,
the rusty soccer nets, the chain fence
the only thing protecting us
from the rest of the world.
I remember running around with my friends
chasing bugs, catching them, trapping them in jars,
Not once considering
my connection with something
so small and helpless.
I remember watching kids play soccer
laughing and running around carefree
in the rough grass,
wishing I was cool like them,
but I never joined in.
I remember the shade of the big oak tree
keeping me safe from the world,
embracing me the way a father would a son,
taking away all the pain
and healing him with warmth.
I also remember falling in the middle of the soccer field
twisting my legs on the uneven ground,
no one running on the field then,
left there alone and scared, crawling back
to the school like a lone worm.
To some of my friends the schoolyard
might already be forgotten
like gum on the bottom of a desk,
but it is scorched into me
like a burn scar.
It’s where I stopped walking.
It’s the place that first put me
in my mechanical and heartless
chamber, all steel
and painted grasshopper green –
my new legs.
‘St. Michael’s’ is a poem in Jake Slominski’s The Page They Forgot to Burn.
Jake Slominski was born in Niagara on the Lake, and at age 5 was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. His work has appeared in the literary journal, Logos, and he recently studied poetry at Niagara College. Last year he won Honourable Mention in the Canadian Authors Association Poetry Contest and he had three poems selected for their anthology, The Saving Bannister. He is currently working on a collection of poems on the history of disability.