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Self Portrait, by SAMANTHA ABEEL

August 07, 1994

To show you who I am

I crawled inside a tree, became its roots, bark and leaves,

listened to its whispers in the wind.

When fall came and painted the leaves red and gold

I wanted to shake them across your lawn

to transform the grass into a quilt, a gift spread at your

feet,

but their numbers eluded me,

so I turned a piece of paper into my soul

to send to you so that you might see

how easily it can be crumpled and flattened out again.

I wanted you to see my resilience,

but I wasn't sure how to arrange the numbers in your

address,

so I danced with the Indians in the forest

and collected feathers that fell from the eagle's wings,

each one a wish for my future,

but I lost track of their numbers, gathered too many,

and was unable to carry them home

so I reaped the wind with my hair,

relived its journey through my senses, and

felt its whispered loneliness, like lakes in winter,

but it was too far and you could not follow me.

Now I've written out their shadows

like the wind collects its secrets

to whisper into receptive ears, and I

will leave them at your doorstep,

a reminder of what others cannot see,

a reminder of what I can and cannot be.

From "Reach for the Moon" by Samantha Abeel, watercolors by Charles R. Murphy. (Pfeifer-Hamilton Publishers: $17.95; 48 pp.) In eighth grade Samantha Abeel was recognized as learning disabled. Special education meant that she could, as she puts it, "raise her hand and say 'I don't get it.' " Her message to other disabled children in this book is: "Find what you love, what you're good at, and then do it. Never let your disability stop you from doing what you are good at or want to do." 1994 Reprinted by permission.

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