Andrew before birth
 
imagine he's sitting at a table
in a kitchen with hams hanging on hooks
and eggs a-frying (garlic and fennel)
 
- in a time before time - with a small sun
burgeoning outside - lifting the sky
(and a vigilant hare) into listening heart.
 
Around that scrubbed table sit three people;
the son of my second son's unborn son,
an old man who's been here before - and a
 
tweed bedecked lady, lipsticked and twinkling,
holding a cigarette and whiskey glass.
'What will it be?' says the old man, earnest
 
as an owl. ‘Performer,’ says the lady
‘Stand-up or West End - he might make it big!’
‘A hero,' says the boy ‘master or leader!’
 
Andrew's head drops and the man simply smiles.
'They need me' says Andrew 'my cross will be
heavy. Down's Syndrome for me, mate, let's go.'

 

 

Boy
 
I am alive; talk to me,
voices can sing to me, harmonise bass with me, make up the words to a ballad or yarn with me, loudly embark with me.
 
I am alive, laugh with me,
fall down and wrestle me, sport, spin and tumble your oneness in tune with me. Love me as I love me.
 
I am alive, approach me,
feel for the guffaw; believe that the bellies of folly live on in me, rhyming me, glance at me sideways and hope to encroach on me.
 
I am alive, notice me,
play up in mischief and open the windows for breezes to blow at me. Let me uphold you and so you can bolster me.
 
I am alive; distract me
in every direction, the clowning comes through to me. Shatter the eggs with me, clean up the mess with me, wear a chef's hat for me.
 
I am alive; melt with me,
growl out a giggle and tickle me. Sparkle and yes with me. Make a fine mess with me. Yes with me. Yes with me.

 

 

Ode to Autism
 
'Just a single.' I raise a finger
and a waitress nods and leads me to a single
chair at a single table, deep inside
a City eater.
It's several days
since I saw my son.
He's a 'single';
spending big phases
alone.
The thought's like a shudder
carried over water
to another shore
 
but in dodgems, where bumpers
bang and shock,
he shakes
with glee: delighting
in a burn and crash
contained in space
with loved-ones close
and surly fairground helpers
bound by electricity.
 
One time in Ireland,
the owner let us ride again and again
for free. He'll meet Saint Peter.
 
But now I whisper to myself
below a lunchtime hubbub
in a City of London restaurant
that here are tons of people, tough
as gulls, alone, forever squalling
lonely
on and on above the sea,
buffeted by what happens next
and whatever's meant to be.

 

*

 

John Lavan

 

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