Glass and Concrete

by Nicole Nicholson

I place my hands on the glass wall,
pushing against one more boundary
between me and the world, as if my bare hands
could make the wall more solid, less breakable: and when
I lift them up, I see the remains of one language
I speak, an entire matrix of lines, swirls, and whorls
dictated by DNA, stamped onto the glass
in oil and sweat. The handprints won’t tell you

about the endless rooms in my attic brain full of
my memories in Super 8 film rolls coiled up and sleeping
which have been magically appearing since I was a year old;

or the rooms of computer hard drives storing facts, numbers,
and encyclopedia notes numbering somewhere in the octillions;

or the glass-shatter heart that sometimes fractures if I breathe,
or suck in air from the shock or suspended surprise
of someone else’s pain, or when one of my own free-floating
pieces of celluloid with razor blade edges slices my fingers
when I yank it out of my film projector and try
to stuff it back into the canister it escaped from. The handprints

won’t tell you that our family’s collective lips are sealed
about our green strangeness, the unuttered word
that I alone out of the clan speak: autism. The handprints

won’t tell you that I shut my eyes and imagine
the lost, the mute, and the gaunt lit with pain
and pulling razor blades out of their throats
appearing as time-delimited half-tones behind this wall:
Tommy the pinball wizard;
my grandmother made of cedar beams, Indian blood, and elocution;
and a lizard poet, white knuckled, hanging on
to a rollercoaster of pain for dear life,
just to name a few. But the handprints will tell you
that I am human.

I wonder if you can see them: sometimes, I know
that on your side, you only see graffiti-infested concrete,
slapped and glued with headlines about
how our hearts are hollow, how we live as alien mutants
among you in a universe of uncertainty, and how
the word “never” seems to creep into your speech about
us. And you wonder why I erect a glass wall? Some days,
I am forced to pour concrete and hide behind
the wall of cold cinnereal while I listen to the noise
coming from the other side and my eyes
flood and create another ocean: but eventually,
I raze the walls that I construct, and all that separates
me from the world is a stately barrier of glass.

Place your hands on the glass and line them up
with mine: can you feel
the warmth from breath and skin, sweat and
rhythm, blood like tom-toms pounding and marching
all through my body? This is how we can be,
hand to hand, eye to eye, toe to toe, once I feel
I can approach the glass. We touch, and it can melt away
into a membrane, or it can eventually evaporate
and become a ghost that we used to look at each other
through: this is the understanding I need, and the vision
that you need. But as long as you insist on concrete
slapped with pity, pithy headlines, and ignorance,
you will never feel my handprints. You will never
feel my warmth. And you will be convinced that I am a
comic, hollow being that can never feel. And all
the while, I will be drowning in another one of my oceans
behind that wall.

About the Author: Nicole Nicholson is an adult with Asperger’s who prose appears at Woman With Asperger’s, and whose poetry appears at Raven’s Wing Poetry. Glass and Concrete appears here by permission.

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6 thoughts on “Glass and Concrete

  1. John Makin says:

    Oh what a wonderful piece! Images that leap from the page and stand concrete before me; Visions of feelings, thoughts and emotions I can feel vibrating in my clenched fists!

    It talks to us! Nay, it shouts it message to all who can hear it; screaming from the page!

    A powerful image in glorious colour and three dimensions …

  2. Trance says:

    Simply spoken, powerful.

  3. […] poem, “Glass and Concrete” was republished over at the Autism and Empathy […]

  4. Carolyn says:

    Eloquently paints the portraits of persistent pain: the hurt, the longing to be seen, known, the heartbreak of once again being thrown away, because I didn’t say the “right” things. Thank you.

  5. Martha Barker says:

    Now I can hear you.
    Now I can see you.
    Now I can walk with you
    side by side in perfect trust.

    Thank you for these eloquent winged words that fly like
    silver arrows straight to our places of understanding.

  6. […] poem, “Glass and Concrete” was republished over at the Autism and Empathy […]

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