Sales Pitch

by Maddie Phelps

Studying advertising when you’re disabled
is a god damn mess.
An instructor asks us,
What do people want?
What projections can we create
that will finally slake their thirst?
A classmate answers,
We all just want to be normal.

I blink.
I think,

I’m not obtuse; I understand.
I searched for normal once.
Stumbling through a dry heat,
I smiled until my lips cracked;
I stood up straight
until my spine turned to stone;
I made eye contact
that burned sand into glass;
I spoke until words became ash,
carried by an empty desert wind.

I emerged carrying
armfuls of sand
and pilfered mannerisms.
But I did not find normal.
I did not find
a stream where I could lie
until the word autism 
felt less dirty.

And afterward,
I found little
that could scrub out the sand
from where it’d
buried itself like daggers
into my skin.

Everyone wants to be normal.
I don’t.

We want to hear from you!

Access U is looking for submissions from people in the disability community about their experiences. However you express yourself best—editorials, songs, poems, essays, visual art, videos or other forms—we would love to hear your thoughts and feelings. Learn more about our guidelines here.

In order to be more inclusive, we don’t have to use your name with your submission although we will need a way to verify your story. We hope you contribute; we really want to hear from you!

Send submissions to CommunityJour@umn.edu.