#52weeksofnaturepoetry, Poetry

Grey Dagger (Acronicta psi) – Week 44 #52weeksofnaturepoetry (a fundraiser for the RSPB)

The post holds us,

supporting a much-needed breather,

adjustment of senses.

Purposely planted gunneras

and bushy figs

surround the area;

giants giving shade to the nearby pond,

yet not quite stretching

to our increasingly warm necks.

A moment of meditation

with the flora’s soft sways,

blocking out chatter and unwanted closeness

of curious, clustered bodies

browsing stalls and workshop windows.

You spot it first, inches from your elbow –

luck that it was spared from our thoughtless lean.

Blending with the woodgrain,

a static figure an inch long,

grey forewings slashed

with dagger-like markings,

and, more prominent

than some of its fellows might display,

a whitish orb on each side:

moonstone pommels for its black blades.

The discovery of our quiet companion

rejuvenates some percentage

of our lost energy.

Moving on, smiles light yet true,

we leave it

to continue its camouflage practice.

This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. 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!

Reviews

Book review: A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll

 

KoSpark

I heard about A Kind of Spark a few weeks ago, as I’ve followed its publisher, Knights Of, since they first formed some years ago. Knights Of are an independent UK publisher looking to boost the voices of marginalised writers and artists, so it came as no surprise to me that they took on this book, which is an own voices by a neurodivergent author.

The story is about 11 year old Addie, who is autistic, and her campaign to get a memorial made for all the ‘witches’ trialled in her small village in Scotland in the 1600s. She can’t help but see the parallels between those who were accused of being a witch and herself – both she and they are seen as other by everyone around them, and she longs to right that.

Before I started this book, I thought it might feature Addie going around different sites and compiling facts about the witches to use for her case, but it’s actually more about how everyone in the village treats her, and her older sister who is also autistic, Keedie.

This made it a very difficult read for me, because the teacher Addie has is truly horrible to her – tearing up her work, humiliating her in front of the class, accusing her of copying, trying to tell her parents that she’s a problem and shouldn’t be in that school – and when I was in Primary School, in the infants class, I had a teacher who bullied me just like that and scared me so much that I got ill and couldn’t physically go in. So for a lot of those scenes, I was in tears trying to squash down my own memories. Added to that were much newer memories that came up in the scenes where Addie would talk to Keedie (who is also the twin of Nina, a neurotypical girl who clearly loves her sisters but doesn’t understand them the way they do each other).

Keedie is about 18, and in the first few months of university. She’s able to commute, so she comes home every night, but it’s clear that it’s taking a toll on her, especially when she tells Addie that she hasn’t told anyone there that she’s autistic and is constantly masking. I connected just as much with Keedie as with Addie because of this, as I masked so much while I was at college and then when I tried working. There’s a scene where Keedie can’t take it anymore and gets thrown into burnout, and it really resonated with me. Well, the whole book did, but these parts were the most intense.

I won’t give away any more of the story, but I will say that reading from Addie’s perspective (it’s written in first person present tense, so it’s a very close narrative style) completely echoed the sensory and social experiences and difficulties I have, along with what it’s like to get wrapped up in a special interest and the strong urge to right things that are clearly wrong. So, if you want to know what it’s like to be autistic, this is the book you should pick up. In fact, I encourage everyone to, as it contains many of the things I want others to be aware of while saying them in a more coherent way than I think I ever could.

I will say, though, that if you’re a neurodivergent person with similar traumatic experiences to mine, then to be gentle with yourself reading this. It’s hard. Things bubbled up in me that I thought I’d buried long ago. However, I spoke with the author, Elle, about it (she’s very active on Twitter and open to DM’s) and she said that she used a lot of her own experience for this, and it shows.

Also, on a side note, a lot of the people who worked on this book are neurodivergent too. I’m very hopeful that A Kind of Spark will be the start of a big change in the publishing industry, where opening doors to neurodiverse creators is the norm, not the exception.

Once again, please take a look at this book!

Poetry

Hermit crab

The day is warm on my face, so I emerge from my home

to track down supplies. It shouldn’t be too bad, I can enjoy the breeze

and how the sun trickles on my limbs.

Scuttling along, intending to be content.

Do I really need my shell?

There’s nothing to bruise my soft body here–

whoosh.

Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.

What is that? Those startling things

all herded in groups or alone with noses in black mirrors?

They don’t even see me.

Feet stomping, arms swinging, brows furrowed.

Blind to a little crab trying to find food and appreciate the air.

Better be getting home, before they extinguish me with their ignorance.

Poetry

Restraining a meltdown

Let me scream, let me go hoarse,

these emotions want to rip out through my body.

Crossing sounds and smells, yellow light shining in my eyes

 

and people all around

expecting me to speak in a calm manner

and diligently do my job.

 

My brain is on fire,

my mind just clinging to the vaguest comprehension of what I’m doing.

Voices turn into a babble my ears cannot take,

 

but I’m bound by this uniformed chain

to fulfill my role

so I keep my meltdown locked within.

A struggle covered over with a smile

that is kept from bursting out

 

from the fear of how they’ll react if

they see it fully formed.

 

Poetry

Waiter, there’s a wasp in my soup

I have white noise in my head.

It layers itself over everything my brain is trying to do

and the only way I can turn the screen

to a semi-smooth grey

is impair my senses

so my receptors can focus on one at a time.

I don’t want to be trying to read while having an audiobook playing

and a graphic novel flicking pages all at once.

I want what I see, hear, smell, taste and touch

to be a well-organised orchestra performing a waltz,

not one who’ve had their instruments switched with scrapyard junk

trying desperately to tune up what can’t be tuned.

 

Uncategorized

Oh…I’m autistic

Greetings, everyone! Today is apparently the day for a long(ish) post about things on my mind.

In late January, I was formally diagnosed with autism, and it’s taken me a while to fully process it. Though I knew I had many traits and spent last year writing things down while I was on the waiting list for assessment, it still came as a bit of a shock to me.

I think I still had that small nugget of doubt, and when that was finally snuffed out, it sent me into a bit of a self-analytical spiral. I also had a massive meltdown where I simply couldn’t stop screaming — it’s an odd thing to have your body doing one thing while your mind is observing everything from a 3rd person view. And I was highly impressed at the sheer range of my voice. Honestly, I think I could give a banshee a run for their money, or a Camaar fish wife (if anyone gets that reference, I’ll give them a cookie).

I think the meltdown was not only realisation, but sheer frustration that it’s taken 28 years for people to see it, and one of my main thoughts was what would my life have been like if I’d known earlier? Would I have been bullied at school so much? Would I have even attended the schools that I did? Would I have had better advice on relationships and more understanding of why I can’t handle certain situations? Would I have felt so pressured to get a ‘real’ job that I accepted the first offer I got and spent three years struggling and pretending to be perfectly fine when I felt like hiding away and covering my hands over my ears through every shift?

But what I realised was that it doesn’t matter, because you can’t change the past. All you can do is look to the future. And I’m now in the process of getting the support I need.

I’ve also been suffering with anxiety and depression due to various other personal situations, and the whole lot combined has left me completely drained. However, I can’t live life as a complete recluse, and as much as I find it extremely difficult to talk to people — whether I know them or not — and experience a lot of sensory overload whenever I go out, I still have to do ‘basic’ things like going to the doctors or buying food.

I also know that as my poetry collection and my latest book are now out, I should be trying to promote them as much as I can, which includes going to spoken word nights. Which are nice in theory, as I get to listen to a lot of other artists, but not always so great in practice due to the sheer social nature of them.

Last night was one of those occasions, and not only was I uncomfortable the whole time, but after it was over, I felt like a group of bulbasaur had leechseeded me. I could barely walk properly, and my mind had died completely. Don’t get me wrong, I did hear some great poetry and got good encouragement for my own, but I honestly have to ask myself if that level of exhaustion, and the week or so of anxiety leading up to it, was really worth it.

Thing is, I don’t have an answer. I doubt I ever will. All I know is that one side of me wants to get up and perform at every one, while the other wants to stay home and play scrabble with my partner (who is a significant rock in my life and does all he can to keep me grounded when I feel like everything is beyond my control).

One of the definitely positive things I took away from last night was that I wasn’t the only one struggling to do what I do, as one of the other performers has autism too. There was also a spoken word artist with ADHD and one who is Dyslexic. So the sheer amount of creativity neurodiverse people are capable of despite their struggles is something truly inspiring.

Anyway, thank you for continuing to support this little blog and my creative efforts. This post has been quite therapeutic, not only as a way of recovering from yesterday and other stuff, but also because I’m enormously anxious about a phone call I’m expecting (I wish people would give specific times for these things). But I’m sure I have rambled on long enough, so…

Kate out!

 

 

Poetry

Rattled bones

It’s a lovely spring afternoon, so much fresh air!

Until I step outside for a quick nip to the shops:

humans doing human things everywhere.

 

A snarky conversation rolls by with a pram,

loud enough to be commandments –

I think I did see a tablet in their hands.

 

Cars zoom past on a racecourse I can’t see,

their colours all blurring into one

and a thunder juggling my insides around violently.

 

Then there’s the monster being fed parts of tree,

gobbling them up as tasty snacks

while its tamer looks upon its destruction blindly.

 

I admit I can’t fault the elderly chap mowing his lawn,

after all, the sun is out and the grass is dry,

but all combined this noise shatters me and leaves me drawn.

 

Such a journey may have been a simple quest in theory,

yet for me the price of undertaking it

meant spending the rest of the day dead weary.

Poetry, Uncategorized

Overcrowded

The hourglass is set, sand fills the corners of my eyes.

Dust particles react to the sounds like fairies grouping around a newborn.

Swarming, the buzz can sometimes be unbearable

and all I want to do is wake up.

But no matter how hard I pinch or how sharp a pin I prick myself with

it doesn’t work,

because I’m already lucid.

Poetry

Neurodiverse

I can’t think

how many times I’ve had to hold my tongue to please.

How many times

I’ve become someone else

because at the time, it felt like an easier option

than having to explain why touch makes me uncomfortable,

why I can’t concentrate in social gatherings,

why I’ll always interact with animals

yet give other humans a wide berth.

There are some who I know would understand,

but others, regardless of explanation and education,

never will.