Friday, January 27, 2012

Poetry Friday

It's Poetry Friday.  Normally I'd be sharing a clip of a poet reading his or her work.  Since yesterday I wrote about my daughter Grace, I thought I'd share some of my poetry (which she inspired) today.  To give you some context, the following pieces are part of a book-length collection of poetry I wrote about adopting Grace and finding out that she is disabled.  The pieces below have all been previously published.  In a few weeks, I might share some of the poems in the collection that haven't been published yet. 

I hope you enjoy!



An Autism Fairytale
(Published in the Summer 2011 edition of Poetry Quarterly)

 
Smooth and river rock-round, the girl’s voice spilled
like spring water from her lips as she danced

in word-puddles and slept in a sea of songs.
Like all gods, the sun was jealous.

One day, the girl opened her mouth and the sun
melted her voice like lemon drops on her tongue.

Moss grew up the girl’s throat, stretched over her lips,
her nose, her eyes. Her hair grew like ivy,

twined around her toes, and pushed into the ground
until she was rooted among roses and delphinium.

Her mother scraped the moss from the girl’s mouth,
and scribbled words on red tissue paper,

words like Please and Hope and Love and Mommy,
fed them to the girl like lavender ice cream,

then pressed her lips against the girl’s and blew,
as if the girl’s heart had stopped and not her own.





Lost
(Published in the Spring 2011 edition of Tipton Poetry Journal)

I often wonder about your words,
whether they are lost or hiding,
instead of stolen by autism.

Maybe they are in that space
between your molars and your tongue,
trapped between your heart and your mind.

Once, I stuck my finger in your mouth.
I pushed it back into that gap,
hoping to feel something--anything.

Instead, you bit me,
and I wore bruise-marks
from your tiny teeth for a week.

Sometimes I pick words for you,
tongue twisters--
she sells sea shells by the sea shore.

Although I would settle for less--
play, hungry, thirsty.
Home, love.

Mommy.

My grandmother was born tongue-tied.
A thin piece of tissue trapped her tongue
on the floor of her mouth.

She could not speak
until the doctor clipped it.
Nothing is holding your tongue down.

Maybe your words are in a cosmic
lost and found, sandwiched between
lost socks and dreams.

I would go there if I could.
I’d root through forgotten hats
and misplaced pens until I found them.


I’d bring them home and feed you
words until they overflowed,
dripping from your lips.

Then I’d catch them as they fell,
and save them like pressed petals in a book,
in case you ever lost your words again.





Written on Rose Petals
(Published in the Summer 2011 edition of Poetry Quarterly)
 

In my dreams you whisper
my mother’s words.

I want to sink into that place
where you speak and she lives,

but sunlight on the roof
or the sigh of roses wakes me.

Is it the sound of God listening?
Or your own small voice?

The one I still don’t know.
Maybe it’s a hymn

the stones share with you,
His name on their lips

the silent song you sing
as I pull you from bed

and we tumble up a hill--
do I shape you or do you shape me?

My back bends toward yours
as you straighten toward me.

I push your feet into cool clay,
stretch your arms to heaven,

and compose a hallelujah of silence.
You breathe me and I breathe you,

as if air and clay are enough,
as if your name is written

on rose petals that spring
from the ground at your feet,

a storm of prayers in minor
chords my mother sings--

she holds the stones
and they speak your name--

as I wash clay from your feet,
and carry you home.

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