Make Sense of It

Make Sense of It by Valerie Parente

I saw my teacher speaking,
I saw the words on the paper,
but I couldn’t make sense of it.
I knew it wasn’t a foreign language,
but it damn near felt like it.

I tried and I tried,
I read the same pages as everyone else,
but when it came to discussing the chapter
I missed everything they talked about.
Peers scoffing that I didn’t understand what I read,
teachers scolding, thinking I didn’t read at all,
peers moving on to honors without me,
teachers announcing that I was lazy.

This isn’t a pity party,
this is processing a processing issue
that went on for so long undiagnosed
and I just want to understand
why it was so hard to make sense of it.

Now it all makes sense,
why I struggled in the way that I did.
Starving my brain certainly didn’t help,
but it felt like a just punishment for being the “dumb friend”.
Developing obsessions certainly didn’t help,
but it felt damn good to understand something inside out.

They said this was about intelligence,
they said I was just stupid,
but I didn’t feel stupid,
I felt like I was trying to make sense of sound with sight,
like I was reading a language foreign to mine,
like I was going through the motions blind,
like I was faking it all the Goddamn time.
Well I’m a writer now,
I make art your class can talk about,
I excel at university with essays,
I write books, I write articles,
and guess what? I get paid.

This isn’t a bragging session,
this is finding comfort in that it was never about intellect
and I just want to understand
why full grown adults who were supposed to help
couldn’t make sense of it.

– Valerie Parente (4-12-2021)

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