Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Dash of Poetry

I subscribe to a daily newsletter from the Writer's Almanac. I signed up to get the daily dispatches of literary history. I am not usually a big fan of poetry. I thought I would just ignore the poems that come with the e-mail every day. But I have found, to my surprise, that I like them. They aren't as frustratingly obtuse as I usually find that whole genre. One day last year, when I was having a speaker on visual learning here at the library, the daily poem was written by the mother of an autistic child. Here it is:

Poem: "Autism Poem: The Grid" by Barbara Crooker from Radiance © Word Press.

Autism Poem: The Grid

A black and yellow spider hangs motionless in its web,
and my son, who is eleven and doesn't talk, sits
on a patch of grass by the perennial border, watching.
What does he see in his world, where geometry
is more beautiful than a human face?
Given chalk, he draws shapes on the driveway:
pentagons, hexagons, rectangles, squares.
The spider's web is a grid,
transecting the garden in equal parts.

Sometimes he stares through the mesh on a screen.
He loves things that are perforated:
toilet paper, graham crackers, coupons
in magazines, loves the order of the tiny holes,
the way the boundaries are defined. And in real life
is messy and vague. He shrinks back to a stare,
switches off his hearing. And my heart,
not cleanly cut like a valentine, but irregular
and many-chambered, expands and contracts,
contracts and expands.

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