Memorial to FDR
by Johnson Cheu
America wanted to see you strong
against its deflation, so you sold
the illusion of sturdy legs.
The press shot you behind podiums,
floral arrangements. At Yalta, you're
seated between Churchill and Stalin.
In Germany, cripples were disappearing
into psychiatric wards, their gnarled
limbs disintegrated to wispy smoke.
It was a disappearing act, your
disability. So it's shocking to see
your leg braces in the gift shop
encased in protective glass,
as they encased your own
shriveled legs. They're positioned
upright, an effigy to an epidemic.
A couple, paused at your braces,
shake their heads, pitying
tongues clucking. Overhead,
a newsreel of Warm Springs shows
you visible from the waist up.
In these halls, we've enshrined
your programs to the poor and weak.
But masking your bone's truth, finds
us, your gnarly-boned descendants,
burdened with your legacy
of complacency and deceit.
Dr. Johnson Cheu, the Poetry/Fiction Editor of
Disability Studies Quarterly, is the Visiting
Assistant Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and
American Cultures at Michigan State University.