1. Does your child flap his hands or other finer flapping?
Does he self-stimulate?
In ecstatic moments it is a kind of remembering
the body is the body. For example, these are arms
for grasping. These hands are for
holding and touching the known and unknown.
And how remarkable it all is—scintillate the way
wonder surges towards the filaments.
2. Does he bang his head?
On the inside, the retort of feeling accumulates
as weight. It is like smoke had risen
to the cellar and suddenly became thick and resinous.
A song heard while submerged in a pool.
3. Does he self-mutilate? Inflict pain or injury?
Huddled close against the thrum of rainfall
on our roof and his fingers hook
into my eye-sockets. It is always
this: his fingers seek emptiness to fill, chorus
of nails pressed into my flesh thrust into the seam
of our borders. My body. His pain. Our pain.
4. Does he toe walk? Possess clumsy body posture?
Foal-sure and big-footed he tumbles
across the laminate. Shaky
flicker of sense up the spinal pathways.
Synaptic leaps saying
move or glide. The effort of nerves
to shape the body’s urgencies
stuttering into what’s stuck.
5. Does he arrange toys in rows?
Because design is a prism of the mind.
Because placement is in relation to.
Because the polyglot of form needs order.
Because blue car next to green car
next to red car all along the highway.
Because the serpentine of die cast metal
relentlessly gleams. Because form
is relentless, relentlessly infinite.
6. Does he smell, bang, lick, or inappropriately use toys?
Unbuffered tang. Metallic with a murmur
of salt. An ersatz flavor fevering plastics.
Having tasted sugar. Having known
sugar when knowing is a haunt.
A shape in the mouth that is not a soufflé
and not a seed. This palpable fat.
This gummy warmth.
This tender unknown.
7. Does he focus interest on toy parts such as car wheels?
Every object has a purpose. Every purpose hums its will.
Plastic tires in close orbits. Firestones nearly spun
into the eye. As if the urge to become the eye
was the tire’s concern.
The idea that the thing
could move beyond the membranes
of the self to become fully boy. To be sewn into
the boy’s mind. And having been possessed,
intensely by the thing, upon the thing’s cessation, grief.
8. Is he obsessed with objects or topics?
The Amanita genus is his favorite and includes the “death cap.”
You will know a death cap by its off-colored patches,
the remnants of what was once a veil that had surrounded
the mushroom when it was young. We had lived
in a place of quiet, surrounded by every manner of fungus
and he would stand in the rain until drenched looking
at the same clump of mushrooms. Fairy rings. Polypore shelves.
Sleek and concealed little spore bearers hidden under leaves.
Lobes of chanterelles. The coral-like hemispheres of morels
thinking in their darkness.
9. Does he spin objects, himself? Is he fascinated with spinning objects?
Pinwheels staked along the sidewalk.
Their abiding gyres a mess of colors. He seems
to take them as evidence of
the refuge. An embrace behind the eyes.
A wild ecstasy trammeled by a center. It homes him in.
His being wound down as one winds a clock to take
ample measure of what is infinitesimally
daunting and thus pulled in by the swirl.
10. Are his interests restricted?
(Does he watch the same video over and over?)
In the dark. In the night. In the glow of the day. Audible fuzz
of the screen like passing rain. Shuddering spray of TV light.
Its pixelated filaments pierce the gloom, splits the gap that veils
in from out. The image makes a testament constantly upheld.
11. Does he have difficulty stopping a repetitive “boring”
activity or conversation?
The toy truck’s wheels rotate clockwise then counter.
In the sandbox he puts his eyes close to the wheels, the sand
hisses out from the treads and into the tender folds
of his eye, its membranes soft tissues. The pain
must be unbearable and still he pushes me away as I try
to reclaim him from whatever mystery holds him. From whatever
faraway place whistles to his brain—its boulevard of wheels
spinning past his bewildered imagination.
12. Does he have an unusual attachment to objects—
sticks, stones, strings, hair, etc.?
Pocketful of stone: chalcedony and pyrite. The milky ghost
of quartz. Tiger’s eye. Iron flakes wedged into thin veins.
Ores reluctantly peering in tentacle-like threads, sewn into
igneous rhyolite. Peppered granites and rounded skipping stones
palmed and warm. He’d demand I carry them all in my pockets.
All of their weight pressed against my thigh, raucous with each step.
13. Is he stubborn about rituals and routines?
Is he resistant to change?
Head down, his mind a needle. Intellect extended into
the tip where his concentration pierces the veil. A thousand
tiny exit wounds of time against the backdrop of the sun
becomes a galaxy. A galaxy of pin pricks where the seasons
never change and October is always October, the forms
of constellations immutable. Never ebbing. Never
unreliably winking out like gods of firm promises.
14. Are his tastes restricted by consistency, shape, or form?
His mouth cradles the form that is most consistent with a memory.
15. Does he have a savant ability or a restricted skill
superior to his age group?
His mind teems with magical thought—
the possibilities of every moment: if the clock were a cicada
winding down; if the rain were an unfurled scroll of lost voices;
if the sky held all the animals everyone had loved, then
the absolutes holding us here with our grief are not sovereign.
That this alchemy, scratched with debris and errata, these waves
sweeping our houses loose from their pilings, all of it is soluble
in the swirling cacophony of the mind.