I support a child with special needs the way I support my writing practice: by opening my mind to the past, and writing down with a cool heart and light tongue the necessary and uncomfortable observations I find there in an effort to garner some insight about what it is I really want.
I contemplated this tonight after I decided I wanted to write a poem paying tribute to the paraprofessional, but had no idea how to really do that accurately or constructively without first recognizing that doing paraprofessional work and being a paraprofessional is for me like the way I write my distilled, apperceptive, autobiographical and psychoanalytic poetry.
For example, often, while writing I employ a kind of double consciousness that helps me stay on task observing and taking memory data, but also able to intervene in various ways to guide a poem to a kind of self-awareness or heightened realization. I get a kick out of feeling where the poem is going or trying to go, and this is not unlike the way I like to intuit what a student might do or not do in order to get what they want and be where and who they want to be.
In fact, I’d say the paraprofessional is the perfect job for the poet, not just because it’s hard in many of the ways sustaining a poetry writing practice and poetic consciousness is hard, ongoing rejection and being at the whims of an invisible and unapproachable editor being something that interrupts as regularly as an undesirable teeth brushing routine,
but because like me when I think I know how to make myself happy and that nobody can help me with that, being a paraprofessional reminds me that not everybody likes doing things the hard way for the sake of an epiphanic smile or a eureka high five, the way pretty much everybody could care less about poetry until a death happens, but the poet in me thinks that’s a paradoxical consequence worth getting spit on for, and knows that if I was truly writing poetry for anybody but myself, I’d be writing for and supporting no one at all.