“Synaesthesia is a neurodevelopmental condition in which a sensation in one modality triggers a perception in a second modality.” Simon Baron-Cohen et al, 2013.
Tonight, the sound washed over me:
voices warm, harmonies so cool
I almost got goosebumps. Immersed
in sound like a mild whirlpool
jetting gently, I’d have floated
into sleep if not for the flutes
itching in my left ear, low brass
that bubbled and bounced on my arms.
The bass viols were furious
in the final section, rubbing
frantically raw, all up and down
the long sore strings, gloriously
irritated. I think they were
happy to be tuned so transformed.
Baron-Cohen S, Johnson D, Asher J, Wheelwright S, Fisher SE, Gregersen PK, Allison C. Is synaesthesia more common in autism? Molecular Autism 2013, 4:40.
Forecasting more snow for tomorrow night.
A woman on the bus chuckles, eager
to rub it in when she phones her brother
in the U.P. Old guy next to her shugs,
“Eh, they’re used to it up there. ‘Swhere I’m from.”
All winter this snow kept reminding me
of where I’m from. Snows like the ones this year,
tallied not in inches but in feet.
Mike. What was his last name? Perry? Kerry?
Scrawny kid, angled face, pale, freckled, fast.
I don’t remember. I do remember
his family’s small yellow house, tucked away
in a hollow with trees. That long winter
(was it 4th grade? 3rd?) it snowed like this year.
The yellow house was just about buried
with snow up to the roof. When my folks phoned
I heard the high-pitched squealing arguments
in the background, boys being cooped-up boys.
Mike didn’t make it back to school for days,
until all the dads in the neighborhood
got together to dig a narrow path
down to their front door. Until then, neighbors
took turns lowering milk and eggs gently
down the chimney. Oh, yeah, and the homework.
It is the beginning of the story,
or perhaps the middle. Whatever.
It is early, and already I feel
too worn, too heartsore to go on.
I don’t want to tell this story.
My mouth is tired. It rests. It refuses
to open. See how words grow short, and few.
But images, curst and blest images
wrestle in my mind’s eye, shove each other
out of the way, try to come out on top,
to be the chosen one, or the next one,
the one that follows, or the one after.
Dancers in spiked heels, the ballet in black.
Blows. Bruises. Apples. Onions. Meals. Meadows.
Each word a trigger, chained to others, meshed
and meshing. Rhubarb and strawberries.
Jam and bread. Card games and balconies.
A concert program crowded with scribbles,
unreadable words trickled in between
lines of print, a script shouted like applause
or dripping onto the white like a wound.