Updated: Jan 15, 2022
It’s been a busy month. Easter, birthdays, preparing for a family wedding that was postponed and rescheduled. Book stuff. Life stuff. And “events” like National Poetry Month and National Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month, which typically make me feel guilty for not being a better writer or better advocate or better whatever it is the world is calling on me to be. But, today, since there’s so little of the month left (Thirty days hath September, April, June, and . . . ugh), I’m celebrating both at once.
There was a time in my life when each of these things—autism or poetry—consumed me. In grad school, I read and wrote (or rewrote) poems every day. I listened to them on a little green iPod. And, then, after my son Charlie was born, I lived and breathed each new diagnosis. Autism arrived in 2012.
It was almost as if I couldn’t give one thing the attention it deserved without putting another thing aside. Poetry and autism didn’t overlap. But April is proof—and my son is proof—that they do.
I think about how autism “awareness” is evolving into “acceptance,” and, for FWIW, I approve. There’s more room for everything in acceptance. Even poetry. But I know firsthand that it can be a leap from one to the other, and it’s OK (at least IMHO) for the first step of any journey to begin with the words “I am aware.”
Here's a poem about one of the early days in my own journey.
I am aware
of a pebble as it vibrates
against the floor of a little
red wagon, so small and quick,
it hardly seems to move at all,
until the tap becomes a rumble,
and a handful of torn tickets swarm
a stainless elevator car as
the train bullies
the wind past our faces.
For just one second,
my hair blows before my eyes,
and I don’t see your fingers close
into fists or your back straighten
like a soldier’s before
you lift your arms into
something like flight. I only
feel the air as you stir it,
and I am aware
that this is joy.