What came before.


If I could reach through the computer screen…

I want to hand you a lapis lazuli ball

So you can lose yourself in the deep blue

And be dazzled by the gold specks.

I want you to roll it over and over in your hand

Gently nose it to feel its texture

And weigh it in your hand.

I want to hand you my black tourmaline egg

So you can feel that unique texture

I want you to hold it while you sleep

And wake up to it, warm and slick in your hand

I want to hand you my amber ring

So you can watch the sunlight turn it into fire

And watch the sun set inside it glittering red, orange, and yellow

I want to do these things

So that I can say

We share these sensory experiences

And nothing can take that away

I want to hand things back and forth

And clack them together to hear their sounds

And rub them on our cheeks

And brush them against our fingertips

Then I want to hand you things too big to pick up:

The warmth and smell of a granite mountainside as the sun heats it up all day long.

The liquid sunlight melting across the coat of a cat who embodies sunlight well.

The whole cycle of life that takes place in the soil of a redwood forest. And the smell of that soil.

The deep rumbling sound of the Mother Tree when you’re curled up against it, surrounded by its invisible amethyst glow.

The feeling of lying in bed, but at the same time, being surrounded by a deep, glowing blue sky, as if pre-dawn or post-dusk. And listening to the music of the forest. Listening with my skin, listening with my eyes, listening with my fingertips, listening with my nose. Listening with everything more than my ears. Being wrapped in the song of the forest and the stars and the trees and the soil and the fungus, all singing, all singing inside me.

I know you can feel the layers of sensory experience. The layers of meaning that come before the meaning of mind. The things we were meant to forget, when we learned to think their way. The things we didn’t forget, the things that we retained no matter what we were told to forget. The stillness, the silence. The music in the silence, the growth and death and birth cycling endlessly.

I would hand you these things, if I could reach through a computer screen. And I would take whatever you handed back, and listen to it sing its unique song. And we could communicate the way we are meant to communicate. By what came before thought, by what came before sight and sound, touch and smell, by the resonance in what came before.


14 responses »

  1. your writing is amazing. If I could send a gift through the computer – I would send you a charoite stone. They are beautiful purple stones! -margo

  2. Mel, I hope you don’t mind that I linked to this post from my blog’s facebook page. i felt compelled to share the beauty :)

    – jess (a diary of a mom)

  3. Hi, my name is Paula Einöder and I am a poet. I shared your poem in my facebook page poesia paulatina. My blog is poesiapaulatina.blogspot.com. I will be visiting your blog often. Read you soon.

  4. Thank you. That is beautiful.

    I want to push your lapis lazuli ball against my face and look deep into its blue, like a new universe, with stars and wonder. I don’t have amazing things to give on this side, my most treasured stim object is my little Toothless dragon toy that I love so much, but I will give it to you in an instant if you were here now, to rub your fingers over its tough little wings and gentle head, a reminder that we are alive and that we feel, so much.

  5. I apologise. I wanted to write this in the middle of the emotional storm your writing has gifted me, but the words crashed together just like the waves and clouds and the only thing I could get out was the thunder of my sobs.

    So, this is the post-event approximation of what I wanted to say, somewhat out of order.

    You are one of the most beautiful people I have ever met.

    I want to feel and listen to everything you want to give, and I want to give you so many things in return, to feel and listen to and taste and smell. I’ve wanted to share that with someone for so long, as you said, the layers of meaning that come before the meaning of mind. At most, people generally like my poetry.

    But it’s not because I can’t speak. I speak very well.

    No one knows I’m autistic.

    I’ve suspected for years, but never felt safe in discussing it with… well… anyone. I guess I’d be the epitome of what they’d call “high-functioning”, or, as I’d prefer to term it, I pass for neurotypical. Actually, I pass for simply “genius”, and this was originally going to be a response to your post from 2006 “On “contradictions” and so-called prodigies and so-called savants and prejudice and being a freak on display.” but then I checked to see if you had any recent posts indicating that you’d actually get to read my response, and found this poem and… well… if I responded to anything I wanted it to be the most beautiful, validating, painful-in-the-best-way thing I’ve read in years.

    Like I said, no one knows I’m autistic. I’m fluent in four languages (one of them Mandarin Chinese, and yes, I can read it), capable of many more, hyperlexic, made A’s in college (had to quit due to money problems), have lived on my own most of my adult life, and have been steadily employed for the last three years (before that, college). Which is why I can’t seem to get people to understand how hard it is for me to pick up a phone and order take out (I still do it, but it takes a lot of effort and I usually have to memorise the order like a sonnet before I even pick up the phone). Or how ordering a different sandwich than usual at the chain I’ve been going to since childhood is like jumping into a freezing pool in the middle of January. Or how good my fingernails feel against my lips when they’re painted. How amazingly smooth.

    Or how difficult it is to really connect with most of them, because they don’t even have an understanding of how I really function, let alone that most of my capabilities are actually because of this difference. I can learn languages with ease because I don’t translate through English, I go directly from the reality to whichever abstraction I need. I am doing well for myself as a massage therapist because I feel and listen to the muscles and body of the people I work on.

    My autism is what makes me so amazing. It’s what makes my life so beautiful, in every sensation. Even the bad ones (like towels).

    Thank you for expressing that beauty.

    I may cry again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s