(I wrote this for Autistics Speaking day 2015.)
The little girl who sought comfort and calm
in the midst of an overwhelming family gathering
still lives with me.
Back then, if you pulled the sheets
from the corner of a waterbed
you’d find a surface warm and smooth.
It was too loud!
She wanted your attention.
She was talking too much?
She always made things awkward.
Upstairs, it was quiet.
Under the sheets, a comforting ocean.
She imagined herself sailing away in the sun.
At the shore, a single kind person waved and smiled.
“Have a nice trip!” They called.
Her reverie was interrupted by the back of your hand.
How could she? How dare she?!
Neither she nor I will ever know why you were so angry.
The bed has long been dismantled,
its sheets have disintegrated with the wear of many years,
but the girl remains a girl.
(She is allowed to take care of herself and not be ashamed or punished, now.)