Wednesday, 27 May 2015

A catch of sleep




I don't understand sleep,
one moment, here and the next, there.
We cross over without seeing the way,
the path stretches out never-ending some nights.

Other times, like the old story books,
“Asleep before her head touched the pillow!”
Where is it, the little gate?
Or the stile from path to field?

Where do we touch the latch,
one hand resting on a withered frame,
the rest of the body leaping up,
caught in the drowse and taken. 

I was always afraid of that gap,
the moment between life and dreams,
Looking for it, hoping for a glimpse
of what has fallen with me.

Pulled out of sleep by the lightest touch
on the side of my face.

Look it full in the face for as long as it takes
to blink: in terror, drawing back,
stay from knowledge or be drowned in it,
a void in my travels where the path has grown dark.

Those nights I lay awake
and count myself blessed not to dream. 


©Amanda J Harrington 2015

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Monday, 18 May 2015

A first day of school



When I was little and went to school for the very first time, there were toys everywhere. They spilled out of drawers and cupboards, brought out onto the big blue mats where lots of other children already played. Quiet as I was, I joined in, thrilled that after worrying, school was meant to be fun.

My favourite toy of the day was Sticklebricks and, being that sort of child, I took careful note of the big, deep, wide drawer it came from, one right next to the floor, handy for small children to reach. I knew that I wouldn't forget it and looked forward to getting them back out when I started school properly later in the year.

The day dawned and no toys. No toys the next day. I was told that the toys only came out if we were good, and then only came out on special occasions, and then only came out when the teacher said - this last comment made with a stern face, after my many days of asking.

It seemed to me that it would be a rare day when the toys came out, and yet, on that very first day when we all played, I had been told the toys were going to be part of school. I was a dizzy, high-imagination child but I had an awkward habit of remembering details and I knew this promise had been made.

I often looked over at the drawer and imagined the lonely Sticklebricks waiting inside. I wondered why there would be so many toys in the school but we never got to play with them.

Over time, I stopped hoping for the toys, though I never forgot them. In my mind's eye I could still see the class full of children on the big blue mat, playing with the toys. I sometimes mentioned them to the other children and asked if they would like to play with them but they just said Yes and then looked shocked when I told them to ask the teacher.

The toys never came out again, not for being good, or special occasions or for when the teacher said they could. I guess they stayed just where they were until the next round of children arrived to see what school was like.

It always perplexed me, this promise of fun with a delivery of closed doors and drawers. It was like a punishment for being there, the natural opposite of toys being for good children. Yet I knew we weren't bad, it was just a long, drawn-out lesson in toys only being for the most unusual of days and the rest of the time filled with good children not leaving their seats and working at their desks.

And, for what it's worth, Sticklebricks are very educational. You learn how to build bright, colourful worlds that stick together even after you let go and only come apart when you want them to,

That's the kind of world we could all do with getting out of the cupboard once in a while.

©Amanda J Harrington 2015

My books on Amazon
My own website for books and tuition
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Sunday, 10 May 2015

Jess knows this is the face you make when you learn to read.



Jess knows this is the face you make when you learn to read.
These are the eyes the teacher sees,
looking sideways to mimic reading.
This mouth, ready always to betray her,
opens and whispers a sound that could be a consonant.
All the time stalling, stalling, stalling,
in a sharp, 6 year old hope
that the word will magically clear
by the time the sound reaches the air.

Jess knows this is the face you make when you learn to read,
a little mouth, ready to open
and say the right word,
the eyes staring
at a blank-black-lettered page.
Her forehead most of all is what she shapes,
just the right force behind her frown
to make it seem she almost knows,
is on the very edge of knowing,
walks along the cliff-side,
ready at any nearby second to tumble
into a valley of knowing
where everyone else found their way by the easy path.

Jess sits after the teacher goes
and stares so hard at the old reading book
her head feels full of the girl on the cover
with her bucket full of gold.
Jess knows this girl doesn't need words,
she has her bucket of gold and her fairy-tale world.

Jess traces the picture with her finger and smiles.



I wrote this after watching a little student of mine change the way her face looked as soon as I brought out the storybook. She can't read well at all and doesn't usually want to try, but has now changed this to pretending to try and making herself look very serious about it.

Luckily I'm there to help her learn to love stories rather than just making her read, so it turns out all right for the time we are together. The rest of the time though? I don't know, I just hope she carries on finding the joy in stories without worrying so much about learning to read.

©Amanda J Harrington 2015

My books on Amazon
My own website for books and tuition
Find me on Facebook and Twitter!
Read my Aspergers blog

A story somewhere