Sunday, September 9, 2012

Tapping signals on a line, Long Island Poem for Sunday

Special Education
Diane Simone Lutz

Illustration by Luda Pahl
Driving back past the playground
after leaving another meeting
to name the special needs of my nine year old boy,
I slow to spy him
bright and glaring yellow in his fat down jacket.
He is crouching, peeling pieces of bark
from a tree that the other children use for base.
He smiles slightly when they run near,
but keeps a keen search for bugs
nested and nestled beneath the snow dusted bark.

He's always loved the busy crawlers, hidden in nooks;
multi-legged creepers I used to crush or spray
before the day he begged I spare them,
quoting from his books, telling me
not to be afraid of these creatures-
beautiful, misunderstood.
He says he wants to be a scientist
decipher the language of the spider,
teach people that they are precious-not dangerous.

I pull over to the curb,
eye on the rearview mirror,
and hurt again, to the bone,
for the loneliness of a boy
who can spin brilliant designs with the ease
of the yellow fat spiders that
grace the posts in our garden,
but can't risk a game of tag with the boys,
fend off the assault of daily sound and motion,
escape the labels: disabled, disoriented, disturbed
stop himself from crying so easily,
being wounded so quickly.

Michael told me once
that spider's silk is stronger than steel
they send each other messages
by tapping signals on a line.

And someday, he says, thanks to him,
everyone will finally know
just what they are trying to say.

Special Education by Diane Simone Lutz from Special Education booklet published by The Feral Press. Book is illustrated by Luda Pahl.
Reprinted with publisher's permission.

Previous Long Island Poem for Sunday - The joys of toil, Long Island Poem for Labor Day Sunday


  1. Thanks, Ewa...and Jennifer.
    My hope is that all parents of those children who march to a different drummer know they are not alone.