I know you are all breathlessly waiting for the follow up to last week’s post “Another Woman’s Life–The Sequel,” but I am breathless for an entirely different reason. No sooner had I clicked ‘Publish’ than I came down with a very nasty virus–not Covid, we checked–but honestly, it’s bad enough it deserves it’s own pandemic in my opinion.
I like to go to secondhand stores–places like Goodwill, Mel Trotters, Changing Thymes–this gives me a chance to browse other people’s discarded treasures.
I sometimes post my finds to Facebook–things I find especially funny or ugly or both. But I recently went to a Goodwill depot to dumpster dive and I found something I have never seen before–another woman’s life up for sale. As I write this, I am uncertain of how much I will be allowed to tell you. So, this may turn out to be a bit like the hugely disappointing reveal of Al Capone’s Vault by Geraldo Rivera–a whole lot of nothing wrapped with a pretty bow.
The words hewn from my mind are forced into uncomfortable arrangements.
Sentences with broken backs and incomplete endings.
Things that dangle.
A worrisome focus on grammar and clean lines—syllabication truncated to succinctness.
When all I want to do is run through words like a child through a field of flowers.
Wild and untethered,
I would pluck the verbs that please me best and make of them a bouquet. Smell the deep earthiness of adjectives that bite the tongue when you speak them.
Crush the scented mint between lips full of prose.
Using adverbs sparingly so as not to overpower the taste.
And with great pleasure.
Carefully measuring synonyms by the spoonful.
But harnessing words is tricky business.
Bringing them through the slip stream of consciousness and pinning them to the page is not unlike stabbing a butterfly after the ether withers them.
Do they become inert things no longer filled with life?
Pretty facsimiles of something that once breathed?
If words are not my playthings, then what toys do I have left?
How to describe what lurks in the folds of my mind?
If I cannot use them with abandon, are they orphaned?
Are they lost forever in a void of never-has-been-ness?
A not-being that sucks my soul into a black abyss.
Am I then become wordless?
AUTISM IN THE TRENCHES
BY KIRI L. K. SALAZAR
There is a foe, I cannot see
Wired with hair-trigger senses.
Conflict borne in infancy
Camouflaged in normalcy
My heart is sore, my soul fatigued
Fighting Autism in the trenches.
My Janus child walks a line between his world and mine
I cannot cross his no-man’s land, the battle never ceases.
Nor can he find his way to me
Along a treacherous path
Where every wrong step may carve him to pieces.
Some days, the screaming never seems to end.
Severed nerves send SOSes.
Signals get crossed, get lost in transmission
It might be joy, but why take chances?
The silence is worse.
Laying traps of false expectation.
A minefield of hope and regret
With a route that daily changes.
I have waged war against tics and compulsions
Aiming for inclusion.
Making I.E.Ps into I.E.D.s
Is not an error in transcription
But a battle plan with no excuses.
I am tired of this war.
I am raw. I am defeated.
I have forgotten,
Who am I really fighting for?
If the one I love is the one who is bleeding?
I cannot fight it any more.
In the Land of Normal, Autism is the enemy.
There are no victors and no survivors.
Unless I surrender completely to the pain of what is
and make peace with what will never be.
Instead of making war on his differences,
I will raise the white flag
And embrace those moments of calm.
For, if all I know is war, how can I ever come home?
The artwork entitled Autism in the Trenches which is based on the above poem was installed for public consumption at ArtPrize 2021. It has now come home and awaits installation on the only wall big enough to support it.
Whenever we hold up the critical mirror of consciousness to do a self-check, I sometimes wish it came with a warning sticker to the effect: “The idiot in mirror might be a larger ass than they appear.“
The following post is a painful acknowledgment that I am not as funny as I think I am, and maybe I should seek professional help. As painful as the following confession is to read, I promise you, it was a thousand times harder to write and admit to.
Long before such Food Network shows like Cutthroat Kitchen and Chopped introduced questionable cuisine–there were traditional homemade dishes with mystery ingredients that only got passed down in the family to the daughters who hoarded the recipes on 3 x 5 cards tucked away in a tin recipe box. Classics such as hotdog surprise or macaroni salad were hauled out for holiday parties–sometimes against the will of attending family members–and no holiday would be complete without these culinary treats at the table. I am about to share with you one such recipe.
Be warned, this one may become your very own secret surprise side dish delight!
I am driving back home Sunday, through a raging storm when the call comes over the radio:
“Beep Beep Beep…please be aware that a tornado watch is in effect for West Michigan counties from now until 8:00pm tonight.”
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a tornado–I’ve been lucky not to–but the minute you know it is a possibility, you start seeing potential tornados everywhere you look. They become tornados of the mind. This is one of those imaginary journeys…
We are past the first hurtle. My son has survived having his wisdom teeth extracted and now has to just get through the next five days on a restricted diet of soft foods. Currently he is having ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
It may have been exhausting, but at least the hardest part is over. Now to survive the days with the benefits of top-notch pain killers. (Norco is the way to go. Sadly, only the kid is receiving them.) But, I am reaping the benefits of a narcotically stunned teenager filled to the gills with bowls of Super Scoop ice cream with a chocolate sauce chaser.
The even better news is that the two family members who have been teetering on the brink of existence in separate hospitals have now recovered enough to be discharged. Huzzah! Let everyone rejoice the homecomings!
And to anyone who was hoping the title of this piece was somehow a salacious intro to a naughty confession, my apologies. I’m sorry to disappoint your prurient desires.