Rachel’s Lament (for Alex Spourdalakis)

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
your sight.

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.

Written 6/17/13
© 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


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About ravenswingpoetry

I am a 38 year old writer from Columbus, OH and the creator of Raven's Wing Poetry. I am a poet, seeker, fellow traveler, and autistic.
This entry was posted in Asperger Poetry, Poems and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Rachel’s Lament (for Alex Spourdalakis)

  1. Pingback: Stop | Thirty Days of Autism

  2. Leah Kelley says:

    I saw this earlier this morning – but waited to read until I had the time I knew I’d want to spend over your beautiful words and imagery… Your words are breathtaking… and brought me to tears as well….

  3. Thank you! I wanted to say something about Alex last week, when I first read the story. This one took a while to gestate. Alex — and truthfully no one — deserves this at all. I believe in an afterlife, so I pray for the repose of Alex’s soul. But the point is, something needs to be done here and now so this doesn’t keep happening again. What I find disturbing is that people assume non-verbal = non-thinking, non-feeling…and even to the point of non-human. Which is was leads to awful things like this.


  4. Leah Kelley says:

    I know… oh… I know…
    We must change this…

    Steely determination!

  5. This breaks my heart, your words have such power Nicole

  6. Thank you, mindlovemisery.

    A update to this case: a major federal agency, the National Council on Disability, is calling for Alex’s murder to be prosecuted as a hate crime. More info here: http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/06192013

  7. I read the article you sent Alex’s death was most assuredly murder, its unthinkable to kill you own child. I have disabilities myself and I have been told by the agencies meant to help me that I will never have a job, graduate college, or achieve anything in my life, like I was defect you know?

  8. Given what sort of nonsense some of the agencies tell people, maybe it’s a good thing I wasn’t diagnosed with ASD (Asperger’s) until I was 34 years old :).

  9. Maybe so because you got a start and knew what you were capable of

  10. Good point. Autism was poorly understood when I was in high school. I was considered gifted and weird. An ASD diagnosis might have put me in Special Ed. But this is, of course, all speculation.

  11. In the school I went to they routinely put children in special ed that really had no reason to be there. I was told that I had the symptoms of Aspergers to a pronounced diagnosable degree but that my voice wasn’t “Autistic sounding” As a kid I was a pretty good mimic I borrowed a voice from tv I had to switch it up some when the kids in school kept asking me why I talked exactly like Sally Field lol So I got diagnosed ODD, Social Anxiety, and severe ADD (worst case they had seen but now I know I have Epilepsy so it was probably absence seizures, I am no longer sure the ADD label applies but it is impossible to say)

  12. Yikes. I did spend part of my third grade year in special ed, partially for a speech problem that needed therapy. I think they were trying to figure out if there was something else going on, but in 1984, they didn’t think “autism” and “girl” went together. And I was verbal. And near the top of my class in academics. So, no dice for them. 🙂

  13. I am also very verbal. I was never in special ed either I got diagnosed after high school. I did well in school save for math (I have a learning disability). I had the opportunity to be in the gifted program but my social insecurities kept me from accepting. I was discouraged strongly from going to college, however. I graduated without assist despite the severe memory problems caused by Epilepsy. Unfortunately I doubt I could do it now. After having my daughter my Epilepsy got significantly worse and my short-term memory impairments are substantial.

  14. Wow. That is amazing. Hats off to you.

    I knew college was the only way out of the podunk town my mother had chosen to move to after her and Dad split up. “Steelville” is one of those towns that will make you “stuck” – if you don’t leave after high school, chances are you never will. Thankfully I had good teachers and a good guidance counselor who didn’t seem to care if I was perceived as “strange” or “weird”. So, I got through college despite my social insecurities – in fact I masked them and pretended they weren’t there. As I understand, autistic women sometimes do by mimicking others.

  15. I was living in a small dead beat deeply religious town, now I am living in another country like you I had to get away, 8000 miles. Hats off to you as well Nicole, I got the voice down but I wasn’t able to create a socially suitable persona.

  16. Some of my persona at various times in my life was created by imitation. Mostly other people, and fictional characters. I hear my old town has improved a little but not by much.

  17. My mom still lives in my old town and when I visited last I hadn’t seen any significant improvement, a tornado hit and destroyed quite a bit of the town sometimes after my visit. I have personas too but none of them turned out socially acceptable in the end I found outcasts too compelling,, they weren’t delinquent or bad just different. I try now to be myself for better or worse and I am still an outcast

  18. Pingback: Stop… and Rail Against Stigma! | Thirty Days of Autism

  19. Pingback: “Stop…” A Poem: Disability Day of Mourning 2016 | Thirty Days of Autism

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