#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

#52weeksofnaturepoetry Week 17 – First Sighting

My cheeks are pink; the wind delights in pinching them as we push against it, determined to reach the quayside. Overhead, spilled milk decorates the sky. No heavy rain clouds in sight, yet droplets defiantly needle through the air, fine prickles at first, then heavier.

We huddle under the bridge, watching black-headed gulls (wearing their winter plumage, aside from a few brave individuals) circle and dive as a family attempts to offer the ducks afternoon treats. The ducks barely get a look in and the pigeons, ever wisely, stay well away until the screech retreats and they can pick at the crumbs.

Something large torpedoes along the river, leaving its shadow dancing on the surface. Charcoal wings outstretched and neck long, beak kissed with hints of orange; this pinch of midnight is magnificent against the gulls’ luminous whites and soft greys. A mirage, I wonder? A trick of the eye?

Later, I consult my bird guidebook: a cormorant, it says. Warm sparks ignite in my chest at the discovery – to my knowledge, it’s the first I’ve seen. Pulling the memory close, I clutch it like treasure and mount the scene lovingly in my mind-album, there to look back on whenever I need to.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. Being autistic, nature is often my only place of solace, and I want to do all I can to protect it. As I’m not very comfortable around other people, most of the standard ways of helping out (volunteering, sport-style fundraisers etc) were not a good fit for me, so I came up with #52weeksofnaturepoetry, where I have to post a nature poem here on this blog each week for an entire year without fail.

If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!

Poetry

Flashbacks

It smelt like school this morning.

The first light of the first day of a new school year,

walking down the paved path, satchel in hand, wondering what the day would bring,

what misunderstandings would happen,

what scolding I’d earn for fidgeting or not doing my work

because I didn’t understand yet again.

The other kids, all so at ease, until I try to join in.

They lie to each other, say I’ve stolen this, hogged that,

and not let me play.

Not that I understood how to play, anyway.

But that’s not the point.

When the seasons turn

and give off their scent, that crisp to September air,

it fills my head with these visions

and all the textures, sounds and emotions

that go with them, and even after all these years

I can’t turn them off.

Poetry, Short Stories

I thought my executive function was on holiday, turns out it’s missing in action

I need to do the housework today, but now I’ve had a knife shaped letter prodding me in the ribs, there’s no room in my brain for anything else. What am I doing? Cleaning the birds? Emptying the bins? I seem halfway through both, but how did I get here? Oh, look, the laundry, I’ll do that today. Time to hoover. Mind is racing, letter thoughts stabbing, stabbing, what way am I facing? Oh, yes, the hoover. Move all the things. It’s raining outside. Why am I in the kitchen again? The hoover is in the lounge. Oh look, the laundry, I must do that today. What about the washing up? Ah, those plastic pots in the sink are recyclable, I’ll just put them in the…oh, I forgot to get the bin bags from the other room. I’ll just go and get them–no, hoovering first. Done! Now I can do the washing up and put those pots in the bin…once I get the bags. Finally, I’ve finished. Phew…

Oh look, the laundry.

Poetry

The fading of memory as time closes in

It runs, feral thing, clawing its way to the corner

where it dives into the carpet and hides there

in the swirls of moth-eaten flowers and turquoise gaps.

The pathway it came down disappeared

and left it abandoned in the ruins, watching the stairs

it once so loved to climb

crumple into wisps of doubt.

What did the house look like before?

Does it still exist? Did it ever?

Poetry

Those lost fauna

I can step into the shadows of their skin and feel

the warmth bound through me,

the earthy closeness of those burrowed days

nostalgic and pure.

The rains come and nourish the ground,

and when the skies clear to leave me

alone on the grass,

I whisper their names to keep them alive

for another year.

Poetry

Despair

The photograph shows a cottage, half-built,

support beams visible before the thatch.

I touch them and feel my bones vibrate,

wounds opening up all over my body.

 

Tears run from them, not blood

 

and from the cottage, through the paper to my ears,

comes the shrill whistle of a kettle.

I remember. She always offered me tea.

Poetry

Constant

We walked side by side between planets,

watched their oceans swell and fall

into stardust, theorizing how Saturn’s rings

may be its core

after its writhing energy tore out

to form its own globe.

 

The stars can be seen during day on Mercury,

but I can see them at any time I wish

in your eyes.

Our markers held well over the year,

the beats sounded and shook me giddy.

 

In the grain of that bench under the maples,

our echoes will reside forever.

 

Poetry, Short Stories, Uncategorized

A letter about autism to my childhood self

Hey. Try not to panic. It’s you from the future, and

I’m writing to say don’t worry. Everything

that’s getting to you at the moment will make sense in the end.

 

Like the times you wait by the fence watching the other kids play

wondering when they’ll ask you to join in, and what you’ll do if it happens.

How you’re confused at the ease they interact, talking freely,

while you stand their silently, their shouts and screams of joy

overloading your ears – until the whistle blows and hits you like ice up your spine,

locking you into rigid limbs and wriggling insides. The hold authority has.

And those times you’re unsure what Miss is asking of you, fretting about if you’re doing your work right

because she didn’t go through it fully first. So you wait

and watch the other kids, trying to guess their thinking as they set straight to it

and hoping you can catch a glimpse of their work so you can copy.

Then there’s the time you have to go to the dentist during rehearsals for the school play. Should you put your hand up? Should you just stand?

You ask around in whispers, and everyone says put your hand up. You do, but the teachers don’t see, so then you do stand.

And get told off for not telling them to put you on the end of the row, even though your form tutor read the note at registration.

How about all those times the kids take advantage of your attempts to join in? Sharing

your cat’s cradle only for them to run off with it and claim to the others that it’s theirs,

or when a girl steals your toy and tells the dinner lady you stole it from her

and you can’t speak up properly so give in and let them keep it?

When they’re supposed to share textbooks

and drag them away so you can’t see?

Let’s not forget how you can’t co-ordinate your body in P.E,

or have so much trouble learning in class that you take your work home.

When you have your nose in a book at the doctor’s because you can’t deal with what is going on, and get called rude for not paying attention.

Then there’s your many attempts to get the timing right on Mario’s jump and fail at every try.

When you tell a stranger about how bad mum’s morning breath is

and don’t understand why she’s embarrassed. It’s fact, isn’t it?

Why you can’t understand why people play with dolls when you can just make up characters in your head.

 

Like I said. It’s all fine. There’s a reason for it, a simple explanation:

Autism.

A condition meaning

your brain is wired slightly differently to most people. You notice

things they never will while missing the unspoken signs

they give each other all the time.

It doesn’t mean you’re strange, weird, stupid or a freak.

It means you’re you,

and though you haven’t met them yet, there are others out there

who are wired in the same way

and know just how this feels.

 

So remember, you’re not alone. If you explain

your difficulties (and your strengths)

then eventually the world will start to understand.

 

P.S. In the meantime, try sunglasses and earmuffs — all year round.