Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Readers Choice Award Contest Poem: “Autismville” by Melinda Coppola

Editor’s Note:  Nominees for the Songs of Eretz Readers Choice Award have been or will be published/reprinted in Songs of Eretz Poetry Review every weekday from February 19 to February 27.  Vote for your favorite in March by sending an email to Editor@SongsOfEretz.com.  The winner will be announced in April and receive a one hundred dollar honorarium.

Autismville
Melinda Coppola

I can’t tell you
it is an unpleasant thing
to live in the quirky neighborhood,

"Puzzle" Watercolor and Ink on Paper
By J. Artemus Gordon
on the far side of the river,
a good ways from the thickest part
of the frantic throng.
Here, we are daily looking up,
fixating and stimming
on green minnow leaves
that shimmer against the waters of the sky.
Here we have our own customs;
the daily waking song,
the recitation of dreams,
the morning questions and videotaped answer
for her to play back over and over,
the reassurances:
Yes, there will be snack. Yes, Mom is a girl.
Yes, there will be girl hair when we leave.
The life we’ve grown into,
first she and I and then he
who married into this confluence
of ordered disorder,
this life has authentic charm.
We go slow, we don’t try to measure up.
Our victories are sweeter
for how long they take to manifest
and mysterious
for how quickly they can disappear.
I can’t say it’s tragic in this virtual village,
this parallel universe
peopled with other singular folk
who understand the need for things
like space and processing time,
patience and velvet compassion,
smooth voices, soft dolls,
sweet routine and
more spice in everything.
We have magic here, I tell you.
Songs that play in color,
voices with texture,
folks who spin and swing and
hum and sing.
And the leaves! The glorious
minnow leaves,
dancing upstream,
between the clouds,
and laughing.

Poet’s Notes:  My young adult daughter lives with my husband and me.  She also lives with Autism, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and a great deal of anxiety. She presents as quite challenged to the uninitiated eye, and our lives are far from typical. 

I often feel that we live in a parallel universe, moving at an entirely different pace while the world speeds past.  The children of friends and family meet their expected milestones and move on, and we amble and pause, spin in circles, and forge our own footpaths through the weedy brush. Our milestones are different, but if and when they come, we celebrate them well and take nothing for granted. 

It’s not an easy life but it’s also not the grand tragedy that some people seem to believe it is. I wrote this poem to offer a different perspective to those who feel sorry for us and those who move in the faster, more conventional lanes.

About the Poet:  Melinda Coppola has been writing in some form for nearly five decades.  Her work has been published in several magazines, books, and periodicals including I Come from the World, Harpur Palate, Kaleidoscope, The Autism Perspective, Spirit First, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Welcome Home, and Celebrations.  She is an artist, yoga teacher, and mother to an amazing daughter with special needs and enjoys infusing the work of her heart with her voice as a poet. 

Coppola nourishes her creative spirit with singing, early morning walks, collecting and making art with beach stones, cooking, spending quiet time with her husband and daughter, and communing with her cats.  This poem was first published on her personal blog twenty four may on June 8 2017. 

1 comment:

  1. The line, "We have magic here, I tell you," struck me through the heart. Having raised a son who had special needs and responded to the ways autistic children learn, I understand the stops and starts, resolve and joy in every single moment. Being left behind by a world that cannot begin to understand your family's reality is harsh, at times. Yet every second spent with or thinking about your child comes from the beat of your heart. How lucky you are to have each other.

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