Wednesday, October 1, 2008

“The Moment Right Before” Poem

This was one of my first poems and it is about my many trips to the park with my kids. Autism, more than 10 years ago, was one of those disorders few people really knew anything about; it wasn't as prevalent and talked about as it is now. From first appearances my kids looked like every other kid until they got a closer view of my daughter (who has severe autism) and then ...

“The Moment Right Before”

It’s the moment right before
And after I see them coming
With their big, white smiles flashing my way
And I get that feeling—ache, that’s hard to describe
And it starts with the pleasant conversation:
The trees, the weather, the park.

It’s the moment right before
And it’s a feeling I like to flirt with
For at least a moment or two
But I feel I have not right—like a minority or a hidden plague
But it feels so nice and feels so natural
The way it is meant to be.

It’s the moment right before
I can predict when to tell them
Before they realize on their own
That she’s a little different—a bit off
And save us all from their little excuses
To travel to the other end of the park.

It’s the moment right before
They can become so bold
And redirect their child from mine
By quickly brushing them away
Like a broom sweeping
As if I wouldn’t notice.

It’s the moment right before
A potential friendship dies before it can start.
It’s sad to feel this way, but also learned
From others park moms who don’t understand
About autism. Because she looks just fine—normal
As if my own reflection smiling back at me.

It’s the moment right before
People are drawn to us—like magnets
And I want to repel, before they do
Play the role that I’m the snob
And have no interest in YOU
But I do; boy, do I do.

It’s the moment right before
The color is drained from my face
As if I’ve been murdered and left for dead
To stand motionless
Like rigor mortis
And silent, too.

It the moment right before
It all seems so heartless
But it’s real and today
In a world left too busy
With no time for difficult friends
So I do understand.

It’s the moment right before
They’ll need a quick fix
And a compatible one, too,
But it still hurts
Because there are no quick fixes here
Just the moment right before.


Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

Poignant and beautiful. I remember trying to go to the park with a crying, non-verbal 3-year-old and an echolalic 5-year-old. I remember one child asking another child "What language is he speaking?" I remember telling another parent "My son has autism," and their response was "What is that?" It's like we were pioneers back then. In some ways, we still are.

Holly Nappi Collins said...

Oh, I remember, "What is that (autism)" question all too well. I remember spending quite a bit of time just explaining what autism actually was. Back then I think it was something like 1 out of 1000 children who were diagnosed; today, as we know, it is 1 out of 150.

Paul said...

I enjoyed your poem, Holly. It gave me a brief glimpse of the inner strength you must have as you raise your two kids. Thanks for sharing your poems and stories. I am sure your readers find inspiration in your willingness to discuss these kind things openly and honestly.

Holly Nappi Collins said...

Hey, thanks Paul. I get a lot out of sharing my stories, too!!