Filed Under (Poetry) by Estee on 22-11-2010

A little something I’m working on:


By: Estée Klar

I pushed you into the world.
I wanted you.
I’m sorry.

The white hospital room and metal equipment
fluorescent lights and beeps
no air
until your lungs were suctioned
over one minute.

I waited
afraid I would never meet you.
But you cried
as nature intended,
as medicine assisted.
I’m sorry.
I’m glad.

You are eight now.
Goodbye my toddler –
the one I weep over.
Time barged in.
My toddler
proclaimed autistic
at 18 months.
The number of life.

When the life as you now know it began
behind closed doors with strangers –
enthused young therapists –
to heal the world
in tight jeans
and you, their mission.

Your life started for me when you kicked.
I watched your foot underneath my skin,
when you held your head up for the first time,
from the crook of my arm,
as you sucked the nutrients you needed
from my full body
releasing love.

Your eight-year-old head
still soft
I put my face in your hair,
and hold you for fun,
in the crook of my arm
(sometimes you smile).
But I think
that you can’t remember.
Your writhing body pushes
to climb
the growth chart,
we marked last year –
and away.

Since I pushed
the way I always do
through life
to life
to you,
I say daily goodbyes.
Ah, your little hand in mine.

“Bye-bye, yes,” you say anxiously.
Difficult words for you to speak
You try so hard.

When the people came —
as they do in our autistic life —
the ones who needed to close the doors
like heavy iron gates
I heard you wailing.
My bosoms leaked
my arms yearned
my heart
I should have done something to protect you.
I tried so hard.

Leaving you in the schoolyard
you circled perimeters
maybe watching,
for comfort,
I waited.
“It’s time for you to say goodbye,”
the teacher said.
I wasn’t sure
if you were happy,
if I should have yanked you home.

You tried so hard —
with loud children
a crowded room
you found quiet corners
and alphabet letters
that you wiggled in front of your eyes
a dance from A to Z —
your solace.

You are my boy —
the one who read book spines
from the shelf you laid beside
before you could walk.

You were pulled away,
told to sit down,
taught to use picture symbols,
to kiss the baby doll.
That would satisfy them —
plastic affection,
and oh,
to communicate.

Kindergarten —
a quieter place
little shoes lined up in the hall.
You learned your routine,
to cleanup,
put in your chair,
sit with kids.
Those kids —
fast talking, moving, sharing tea cups, Lego, dolls
like the blur of the ceiling fan.
They didn’t come over.
I ached for you,
for me
they didn’t see.
The fan above
kept you company
and you waved hello.

You made things
you showed me your love of animals and dinosaurs
you made drawings with details
that your peers couldn’t draw.
Their voices were louder,
their hands stronger,
thicker lines on paper —
typical lines.
So people praised them
while you circled the room
trying not to be seen.

You see things
you know things
you can’t say things
very often.
yet full of hums, clicks and whoops,
you uttered many
like jazz
I seemed to understand.

Your words come sometimes
you push out,
the assumptions
about a humming boy.
I have to pay attention
or the soft words uttered,
cannot be retrieved
from vanishing speech bubbles
above superheroes

The sounds you made when dad and I split —
your body spasming relentlessly —
I feared.
Probes placed on your body, your head,
that precious cranium
from inside my flesh to the crook of my arm
they prepped and monitored
for seizures.

Your body
protesting change
in the brittle cold of February
thrashing and falling
with pain,
confusion –
I’m so sorry.

We calmed into
the sun of summer
warming us into fall.
We grew
from under
dead leaves
to fertile soil.
Ripe green shoots
of Hostas unfolded.

You have started a new school.
You leave every morning,
your soft lips kissing mine
my face brushing cherub cheeks
your body stretching
in a monogrammed sweater.
The toddler a shadow of you,
the boy taking over.

I see a future in your face,
a history already written.
I say goodbye —
the smooth soft skin
sweeping across mine.
The door angled
you exit
gentle air wafts
as I close.


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About Me


I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (www.taaproject.com), and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.