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Unborn -- poetry by Lydia Quattrochi

there’s four pictures of my autistic brother, David,

hanging in the rooms of the house

he is called Chube, Dave, Chob, Chupe, and Buster

Nipping-tube, Nippington, Dave’s Brain, Brainiac the Maniac

Dave’s Brain on a Stick, His Cranial Tube, Vindicated, and Vudic.

he is called by many names

from my writing desk I see the six-year-old child

gold-headed, framed, mellow with time

by his beloved vintage Fisher Price cash register.

downstairs, he’s looking vacant and adolescent

from the picture hung by the paint-peeling windows

where he used to climb out when he lived here.

in my parents’ room, he’s a toothy yellow angel

pastel autism glued to the heart walls with gentle memory

he’s staring from the china hutch as well

David’s nicknames go round and round

like a dragonfly spinning in a child’s jar—

I think of him puking spaghetti and eating four hot dogs

walking with his respite workers round and round

at the playground in the city at nightfall

light-footed and laughing and crying—

now he’s twenty-one

his twisting belts in his hands go round and round

his eyes, like spinning tops, go round and round

his visiting hours go round and round

we sometimes walk with him around the rooms

single-file, round and round.

life with David was cyclical—

dinner, bathtubs, school bus, bedtime, repeat

it’s hard to feel him when he’s not here

finding his plastic hot dogs and Memory Game cards

seven years after his exile

it seems so asymmetrical to find him

rarely, like a glimpse in a trick mirror, only once in a while

when he lived in 360 circles for so long

and we lived circles around his spinning dance

life with David was illogical and logical at the same time.

this is a song for the unborn child

who only exists in picture frames

and we are so fearful around him that we keep our distance

so he is framed and unreachable, still alive.

this is a song for the unborn child

whose life was like a freight train on the tracks

whose life was like a mule pounding sorghum in a mill

round and round and round and round

till the aroma of dust and sweetness

became memory and nothing and everything.

this is the song for the unborn child

it’s good to see his smiling face from picture frames

to remember how he once was

not to think of how he is now.

David is the sum total of life

in his smile, there is death and livingness

silence and screaming, colors and numbers,

but mostly the repetitiveness of everyday—

he always seems to go round and round and round.

he helps me remember

we are all unborn

we are all straining at reality

we are star fire on a river.

the cars go by, people go upstairs and downstairs

but we’re still here, we’re still living

it’s good to know we’re still smiling tonight

safe from the creeping darkness of time.



 

Lydia Quattrochi, whose pen name is L. Quattrochi, is seventeen years old, a homeschooler, a chocolate addict, a filler of notebook journals. and poet. She has had her work published in Teen Ink magazine and on the international blog site Weekly Ramblings (and also in Pen Point, a once-a-year magazine exclusively filled by homeschooled students). Her dream is to work in early childhood education, and to write stories and poems that children can relate to. While her goal in the near future is to move out of her small farm town, Lydia wants to write forever so she can inspire more people to laugh and to cry.

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