Sunday, January 17, 2016

Nonverbal

It's cold and there's nobody on the playground but us.
He's little but strong,
a bundle of muscles and brown curls
that never stops moving
Running toward, not away.

Others run from him,
but I follow...not too closely.

I could take my time if I wanted
because I know
where he's going.
It feels like he's mine sometimes
because I know
him so well.

He grabs things
from people,
and they let him
because
They're afraid
of what he'll do
if he doesn't
get his way.

They get embarrassed,
not hurt,
by the things he does.
They want to look away.

No one wants to be there when it happens
because it isn't pretty to watch,
but I can sit there with him until it's over.

The crackers make him "worse,"
his doctors think.
So his parents
and teachers
and little friends in class
try to teach him
not to grab for Goldfish
and to be happy
with something else
instead.

His snack is different,
weird-smelling and greasy,
like pork rinds.
Nobody grabs for those,
ever.

I watch his eyes, looking for something that will tell me
how to help.

I see joy when he's in the air
on the swing
or in the arms of the teacher
who lifts him up
like a dad.

They are fierce when he colors
on the page
so hard that he squishes the crayon
through the paper onto the table
underneath.

His eyes have another look I know quite well
but try not to see when I think of him.

They are the eyes of a little boy
who wants to play
but is afraid
he'll do something
to scare everyone
away again.

I can't think about
those eyes for
very
long.
It hurts too much
because I know
what those eyes
see.

They see too much.

So instead,
I remember him
running for the swings,
across an empty playground
ready to take off
and fly.