I lend you my children. They come to you
in many forms: some with butterfly wings,
diaphanous windows of color through which
light can pass, raining rainbows behind them
on every surface over which they fly. Those wings
are hidden under a thick, fleshy hide: those caterpillars
grow wings by their own faith and sometimes, out of
I lend you my children. Of what are their wings
made? They are made of dreams. Of drawings. Of poems.
Of paint. Of stories. Of equations. Of layers of bedrock
where ancient men, trees, and beasts sleep. Of notes
and staffs, of crescendos, reprises, and codas. Of multitudinous
facts, dates, and people confined to pages within
books. Some are made of stardust and comets. Some
are powered by warp engines.
I lend you my children. How do you divine the existence
of their wings? You cannot, unless you put your ear to the air
and listen for caterpillar song. Some do sing, as you mortals
know of song. Some sing in the clicking of keys, the
scratching of pen against clean virgin paper, and the
replay of verse upon verse channeled from needle upon
stylus from grooves somewhere in the gray matter
behind their eyes. Some sing, without moving their
lips: all you have to do is try to listen.
I lend you my children. Tell me, what is the essence of
voice? Speech is not the only means through which
the soul is channeled, and silence does not equal a
vacancy of the heart. Speech can be the beating of wings:
and I weep, because one of my children is dead. We will
never know what kind of wings he possessed: but oh my,
how he could have – would have – flown!
I lend you my children: yet some of you would gladly
pick up knives and plunge them into their chests like an
insane Abraham before a maniacal, bloodthirsty
god. Although some of your Isaacs cannot speak, I will not
believe that you cannot understand the quivering of a heart
and the shuddering of unknown, unformed wings! Shall
the absence of speech give you permission to send my little ones
on a premature journey flying into the land behind the sun
on a pair of bloodied wings? No. Now listen to me:
I lend you my children. I hand them to you,
each resting inside the open palm of one of my
outstretched hands. Somehow, they must transmute
from caterpillars into beautiful, winged creatures
and I trust you are the men and women for the
task. Yet some of you give up when they do not –
or cannot – speak. You lament only for your own sakes
when they come to you with tiny fractures or large chasms
in their skins. You wear Pharisee-colored sackcloth and ashes
on your spirits when their little bodies and minds do not
have the capacity to wear your own selfish wishes.
I lend you my children: and now, one of them lies
dead. I watch a million-strong army of souls like him
lighting candles and chanting prayers to lift him up into
the sky. They keen, they wail, and they rend their
garments like broken ashes that scream kaddish inside
every carbon molecule. Nothing will satisfy them –
none of your explanations, excuses, or apologies. And
I will not be satisfied, either. I will weep in Ramah
until he returns home – and once he does, I will
hold him. I will listen for his voice. I will mend
his wings. And I will sing to him the lullaby
that you never bothered to give him.
© 2013 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.
“…A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.” — Jeremiah 31:15
Alex Spourdalakis was a 14-year old autistic teenager who was murdered by his mother and godmother last week. Someone needs to speak for Alex. The online autistic community has chosen to do so, and I join them in their grief and outrage. Rachel, indeed, is weeping in Ramah. And in Chicago. And in Columbus, Ohio. And in the entire earth.
Please say a prayer for Alex.
Also, here are some more links about Alex and what happened to him:
Paula C. Durbin-Westby created a Facebook page as a vigil for Alex here: https://www.facebook.com/events/387982241320567/389599554492169/?notif_t=plan_mall_activity