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.
I want to search for myself in the grain,
stills can only tell so much
and I need more.
So back I roll past white noise
to the start of my fingers
tapping out the sheet music on invisible keys
while my eyes put up their barrier against the hum
and I go off into space.
There it is. The movement
I’m playing right now, recorded in the background
twenty-one years ago.
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:
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.
The wasps are under my skin again,
their buzzing taking over
and vibrating my brain into ice,
breath cool but scorched words.
Heat in my face, on my tongue, on my lips
and only a dark cloud in my belly to blame.
I know the wasps will dissolve into sweet figs
tomorrow, or maybe the next day,
but I wish the ointment I brew from them
could be given now, with a kiss of apology
even though you always say you don’t need it.
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,
My age is shown in armoured plates,
shells coating my body. Each one no thicker
than a single hair and full of patch jobs
from nicks and scrapes I’ve received
clawing my way here through thorned words,
cactus remarks, daggers thrown at me with a single look.
Sometimes, not even I can remember who I am underneath,
and I know I would feel naked if I stripped them back.
But that lemon juice you offer is so fresh.
It’s like someone’s hooked me up
to a drip filled with every uneasy, frustrating moment I’ve ever had
and let it seep into my body all at once.
I’m pacing around in the calcifying walls of my mind
while my body tunes itself out
to my directions. It’s laughable
the lack of control I can exert.
I’m a parasite to myself
and even as I clutch at you,
screaming unwillingly in your face,
all you do is ask me to meet your gaze.
The needle tries the heart of twine,
stretching, stitching, with the mind
covering the cardboard gaps with colour,
a spectrum of words, each different to the other.
Folding neatly, origami skill,
how much pain can be removed
with a pill?