Poems

Autism: Beginning to Speak

The songs perched on the wire
freeze to death, one by one.
I cover my ears with my hands
and listen
for the birth of the word,
for who I am.
I walk around
with eyes like open cages
to trap the bright parrot,
the country inside me.
Three steps forwards, three back,
repeat, repeat. I want
to circle the world with my tracks,
circle and circle again.
I rise, weightless, then fall.
The clouds feel damp and feathery
as my mother’s new curtains.
A sour taste is in my mouth.
I stand like a lamp beside the bed
and at the violent touch of warm hands
or the laser-sharp
glance of loving eyes,
I recoil like a gun
and words squawk into the sky
like startled crows.
Silence! Enough!
I lasso one –
and on my head
and in my head
the whole sky falls!
I begin.
I write the crow music
on the stave of the telephone wire.
Simple words squawk in my mouth,
and I co-ordinate and subordinate
and make them complex.

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