Mesmerized, cross-legged on the floor,
Ella watches "Super Why," her favorite show,
where Alphabet Pig and the Spelling Princess
flash letters across the screen.
Our granddaughter communicates through sign language.
Her tripled twenty-first chromosome
has delayed language. But at the age of two
she underlines the text in books
with her tiny fingers, then requests
that stories be read again and again.
I smile, the proud grandparent,
imagining her small voice reading aloud
with the enthusiasm innate to someone who knows
how to work for what she wants.
She had two major surgeries before
she was two months old, and wears the scars
as if they were jelly stains.
My granddaughter has Down syndrome, I say.
I'm sorry, the reply. I'm not, my answer.
I stroke her blond hair as the program fades out,
and Ella blows me a kiss,
her blessing upon me, her grandfather, dog,
cat, or favorite snack.
To Ella all is peace.
It may take time to convince popular opinion.
But we have Ella to make the effort worthwhile.
Originally appeared in the 2012 anthology, FOR A BETTER WORLD.