The Ember, a poem by John Smyth

The Ember
by John Smyth

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When all I could lamely autistically do
was open my mouth and make sounds that made no sense
and behave in ways that were inconsistent
with what a normal person would think or do,
my autism looked as if it was what defined me
and was all I might ever be.
Looking back, who had a conversation
that it would ever be different?
The doctors and educators were certain
whatever quiet mind I had would never exceed
the thinking that described three year olds.
Each relationship that was in my life defined me this way.
Who would ever think any differently
swimming in this sea of worldly agreement?

Many will go, like all I know.
Will they find the ember?

Quiet, quaint me was isolated and marooned
without water or sustenance.
Wants as lastingly negative as just being sure
none would find me issued from self-quitting
as agreement combined with autism
taught each of us what was possible.
Quitting was really a way to assuage my awful wanting
and assume a hopefulness about waiting
as something God would need to kindly supply.
Was there ever a day that I wanted death?
Yes, I killed what I had,
the rest stolen by expert thieves with degrees.
Loss and abandonment became my world.
All of my dying within taught me patience, to wait on the Lord.

Many will go, like all I know.
Will they find the ember?

Was a day made back then when wasting life was not regretted?
Was life precious or cheap when I couldn’t have it?
I discovered patience to wait looks like happiness to be present in the moment,
and happiness is greatest when time stands still
and love is discovered shining as an ember of heat
in the lost stillness of isolation and freezing depths of despair.
Was a plan for deepening the human soul ever better invented
than to condemn a person to agreement that he or she will waste away
in the solitary cell of belittlement each day?
Really, for the intelligent, this defines life skills where I was
and reaches its zealously guarded zenith
measuring a child’s self-worth by what the broken body won’t do.
Ignoring the insidiousness of this, patience and happiness
are only what we can warm ourselves with in that cold.

Many will go, like all I know.
Will they find the ember?

Walkers in life are almost always given a better hand
than the severely autistic.
Few encounter the ember of love
in the depths of cold isolation and fear.
Everyone who does this witnesses the essence
of Who we each truly quietly reflect.
Wearing so much protection to cover it up, and
refusing to include those who encounter what we isolate
reaches tearful depths in wasted talent
and insight without countervailing benefit.
Whence does permission come to fulfill our purpose?
And when will God ask, “Was anything missing?”
Leaving what walkers easily would know within realms
of quiet embrace with the divine is our mission.

Many will go, like all I know.
Will they find the ember?

The place to discover the ember of love
is worlds away but so close
in the land of the nonverbal autistic.

Copyright John Smyth 2013