For Emma: Words and Voices

Most of you reading this blog probably know Ariane and her daughter Emma, if only in reference to their blog, Emma’s Hope Book. (If you don’t, click on the link. Really. Ariane is a great resource for parents who are having difficulties dealing with their autistic children, and is a great proponent of presuming competence because of her own experiences.) Recently (as in the last half year, maybe somewhat more), Emma’s been contributing directly to the posts on the blog. One of the most recent posts was about the body-mind disconnect that Emma experiences; her brain knows what she wants to communicate or do, and her mouth (and/or body) will do something completely different.

So…. I was relaxing yesterday, enjoying the sensation of being alone (save for the cats and dog) in a house for more than a day for the first time in almost a year, when the first verse of the poem this post is about made itself known to me, and insisted on being written. (It kept repeating over and over in my brain until I gave up and wrote it down.) The rest of the poem came very easily.

As the title of this post implies, the poem is dedicated to Emma of Emma’s Hope Book. This is for two reasons. The first is that she is the primary inspiration for the poem. Her comments about her body-mind disconnect, and her self-advocacy, and her insights into both human nature and the problems facing autistics (and everyone who is different from the “normal run” of humanity) is impressive for being twelve, let alone twelve and presumed incompetent (thanks to misinformation) for most of her life. (I tend to use a paraphrase of her father Richard’s words to describe her when I’m telling other people about her story (because it’s so inspiring): “She has the soul of an old philosopher.”) So the subject matter was thanks to her, and to Ariane’s posting of her words (with her permission, of course). (As well as some other things I’ve read by non-verbal or partially verbal autistics, like the poetry of Amy Sequenzia, for example. But Emma was the primary inspiration.)

But the poem is also inspired by Emma in another way. I don’t usually do “formless” poetry; I have a definite preference for semi-rigid rhyming structure and fairly strict syllabic counts per line. (When I write poetry, which isn’t often; I have to be specifically inspired to write a poem, unlike my usual prose writing.) But for this poem… it seems that the way Emma puts words together, and her word choices, inspired my own mind. She has a very poetic way of choosing and using words, and that seems to have ended up inspiring the format of the poem.

(Also, please note: the term “voice” does not have to refer to speech. How many of you had English teachers who asked about “the author’s voice”? They weren’t expecting you to go find recordings of the author of the story speaking; they were asking about something that could be interpreted from the text. Just a thought to consider as you read.)

So, without further ado, I give you:


For Emma: Words and Voices
© Trudy A. Goold, 2014

Words.
I understand.
Do you?

Caught in my brain
And mouth, like
Fish in a net.

I write, letters
On a page, or
Keyboard, to speak.

Do you listen?
Or do you only
Hear what comes
Through the net?

I have thoughts
On many things:
Life, and people.

Words come hard,
But I try to tell
Them to you.

I know many
Things, of life
And how to live.

Do you listen?
Or do you only
Hear what comes
Through the net?

Words.
I understand.
Do you?


So. Do you understand?

🙂 tagAught

6 thoughts on “For Emma: Words and Voices

    • Wonderful! I’m glad you like.

      (I actually emailed it to your blog email address yesterday, then a correction this morning…. *grins wryly*)

      I would love to know what Emma thinks of it (and if she wants to analyze it, that’s fine – the poem is titled “For Emma” for a reason, after all! 😉 ).

      🙂 tagAught

      • Just showed Emma. She told me she wanted me to tell you what she wrote, “Each word telling of connections made, neurological sister, cousin, and aunt delight and make smiles, both inward and those seen, real.”

        • Ariane: Thank you!

          Emma: {{{Virtual Deep Pressure Hugs}}} Yes! Your words made me smile, definitely! Thank you so much for them. I think I’d love to be a cousin and adopted aunt. 🙂

          They also helped because I got them after I got in a small car accident (not injured, car has minor damage, fairly certain it is in no way my fault), so I needed something to make me smile. Your words really did help brighten my day.

          And I’m really glad that you liked it. 🙂

          🙂 tagAught

  1. What a gorgeous poem. So perfectly phrased and profoundly moving. Emma is so lucky to have friends (and comrades in arms) like you. Keep spinning your beautiful webs of words. I understand.

    • Thank you, Richard. I’m really glad that both you and Ariane like it as much as Emma seems to.

      And yes, webs of written words are my tools, as Emma’s string and her open heart and mind are hers.

      🙂 tagAught

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