never other
as a girl
in the in group
doing fine
happy in my class of 20
opportunities to shine were plenty

Hungarian grandmother to give me esteem
never experienced anything mean
approval, encouragement was mine for keeps
in the loop
in the heart
in the midst
of IT.

Venturing out as a grownup
OTHER as an Orthodox Jewish woman
she of the skirts
she of the crew neck shirts
she of the long sleeves
(in July)
she of the covered hair
no matter what
a shameful other
those with disdain
would rain
on my parade

first time ever
Me? on the outs? Never.

That others would whisper about me
when they thought I couldn’t hear
that others would ascribe subjugation
to the clothes I chose to wear
was new
like an uncomfortable pair of shoes
that pinched and chafed
and made you wonder
why you insisted on buying them.

And now
mother of a Special Needs Kid
another kind of other
one that everyone knows
you have to respect
after all there are laws about things like this
aren’t you enlightened in the 21st century
get with the lingo
you can’t use words like retarded anymore
or you will simply look like an

Don’t you know to withhold judgment from those who are different from you?
To keep your mouth from whispering your little mean whispers?
Isn’t that called manners?

Why is this
a different kind of other?