Irving Kenneth Zola by Mary Fillmore 
I had to rest on the steps after school,
so I answered the kids' questions:
"How did you get polio?"
"Why do you wear those ugly braces?"
When I was ready,
I hoisted myself up three flights,
the best loved child
of a gambling dress cutter
and an indomitable woman.
She sent me to Harvard,
where my world opened.
On a hot date one night,
a car went out of control:
nine months in a hospital,
nine months in a full body cast.
Despite it all, I prospered:
married, travelled,
raised children, gained renown.
Within, I was still a cripple
until an accessible Dutch village,
made so my every step wasn’t a battle,
brought me to myself.
Then, my work was set,
and in the streets, in great universities,
in intimate moments and before crowds,
I taught pride and love
for our actual, frail selves.
My hearth was as big as my heart.
Galaxies of people
called me friend, teacher, father,
and speak of me every day.
I was always a lover,
but my greatest love came last.
We blaze across each other's skies,
even now.
Our child is a song still sung.
I walked to the ambulance
where I died.


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