In my world, everything matches.
Or compliments each other.
Or hopefully, just “goes”.
You see, along with
every other piece of data I have
ingested, I have loaded the color wheel
into my brain. And colors
become encyclopedia notes:
there is an exactness in what I do.
My requirements are simple:
black, blue, red, and gold,
with some white in the mix. And a universe
of purple, no matter what the shade
or from what side of the spectrum.
From these, I construct a daily uniform
of striking visuals, noteworthy contrasts.
Oh, and did I mention
that I am purple? One man chose
a green alien face to represent
the autistic tribe, as if we were
somehow deposited on the wrong
planet: but green ain’t my color. I like to think
that because our conditions are on a spectrum,
we ourselves are a spectrum: a tribe
ineffable, something that rainbows
forget to show the naked eye
when they bend their backs into the sky. We are
the ultraspectrum! I would say
that we are fabulous, but the queers claimed that moniker
long before we began to wear our pride.
Not everyone would agree: and some days,
even I don’t, when the misread facial expression,
or the misunderstood joke,
or the fifty million gigadecibel fire alarm
committing felonies within my inner ear
make me question whether inheritance of my father’s
computer mind, glass shatter heart genetics was
the kind of gift that I desired. I admit
that there is a Pollyanna wearing my face
with the same nappy-headed braids and
the same sky-high Empyrean smile as
Ms. Knight Pulliam in the made-for-TV remake: sometimes,
I forget that they call what I have a
disorder. A syndrome. A disability.
The real Pollyanna was bequeathed
with a pair of crutches: I have
subroutines, computers, and the desire
to stretch time between my hands at
my disposal. I once said that I am
not made out of apologies: but I declare
that I am made out of amethyst, magenta,
violet, indigo, aubergine, and ultraviolet.
Every bit of my exterior will not tell you
this story: so shall we dance? And when I do,
along with everyone else willing to write these rhythms
onto the floor, then watch
our steps. You will understand the tribe. You will
understand our color. And you will never
doubt us again.
© 2012 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.
This poems was written for We Write Poem Prompt #120: Colour us a poem. Yes, it’s another autism poem.
I keep returning to color as a metaphor for us on the autism spectrum. Our conditions are in a spectrum, ranging from PDD-NOS (Pervasive Development Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified) to Asperger’s Syndrome to classic autism to other conditions. And of course, the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum are the colors of the rainbow we are familiar with: ROY G. BIV for short (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet). So just as the rainbow is a spectrum, we are also a spectrum.
If I were to just base my metaphor on our particular autism conditions alone, I would be a bit simplistic. Our individuality alone makes us a spectrum. I am particularly drawn to the color purple (which interestingly enough represents either the third eye or crown chakra depending on who you consult) so I have chosen it as my representative color.
One symbol to represent the concept of neurodiversity (the idea that autism, Asperger’s, and other neurological states may be normal variations and not diseases) and autistic pride is a rainbow colored infinity symbol. It is not the only one, but one I have most commonly seen. I have also seen the rainbow in general associated with autistic pride — which is interesting because of the rainbow’s first association with LGBTQ pride. Both autistics and queer folks have struggled with self-acceptance and being different in our world.
I have my own days, and Asperger’s isn’t always a picnic. I am still trying to decide about the word “disabled” and whether it applies to me or not. If so, my disability isn’t visible, like someone in a wheelchair or with a visible medical issue, but it is still something that affects my everyday life. And if I accept that label, what does that mean about my world? Either way, it doesn’t change my strengths and weaknesses nor does it change who I am. And since whether known or unknown it’s been with me at birth, it actually is a part of who I am, who I have always been, and (since there is no cure for Asperger’s and I wouldn’t want one even if they had it) who I always will be.
Forgive the long explanation, but I hope it provides a bit of insight. And I hope you enjoyed the poem.