Updated: Apr 29
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 thing—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 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 Charlie 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’m aware.”
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.