David

David

The first time I met David, he bit me.

I am standing outside the hospital, the old gates to the hospital, Victorian arches, that are lonely left, un-instituted, and substituted by modern housing, housing us, separately, Barrat-barracked solitude. David is with me, he stands near me, still nervous after twenty years away. Today is supposed to be a celebration. We’ve come to show him that Grove Park, that dark Victorian bedlam has gone. It is not a celebration. It is a dancing on graves, brave laughter of the survivors of the system, cistern pumped and thumped so many times it blunted, became blunt. We are blunt in our un-feeling, our, oh so revealing, blindness to what is right before our eyes, is wrong before our eyes.

The first time I met David, he bit me.

I am standing outside the hospital and I at least smile, my wry-dry-trying-to-be-empathetic-turning out pathetic smile. This is his pain not mine. I cannot borrow it to look good. I shouldn’t even try, but I do. Twenty five years of ward-ridden bored-written boredom are his to forgive. He does not. He remembers the beatings and the rapes, the hunger and the hurt, the lies to his parents, when they came, if they came. We all hid him, hid from him, like that aunt you never spoke of, choked on the Christmas cards your mother sent; poor recompense for the unvisited, the forgotten.

The first time I met David, he bit me and called me “nurse”. He had a fear of tall men with glasses. The care plan said…”Autism is his world, you are the uninvited guest. Learn to speak his language”.

I am standing outside the hospital, and David turns and takes my hand. He wants to leave, not touch me. I understand. We go. And that is the end of it. The taking of stock, the paying of debts for a social work system that never even knew. These are his pains, his wounds, and I am grateful they are his, to forgive, let go….or know forever.

The first time I met David, he bit me.

I can see why.

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Filed under Poems 2007-2009

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