RIP

IN MEMORY OF KB

Just heard you died
Haven’t cried
Not going to
But all these memories
Glimmered through
Last moments of a sunset

In your way
You taught me how
To behave in the real world
How to disguise my autism
Although we didn’t know that word
But you certainly knew
I didn’t function quite right

Met in 3rd Grade
Both dressed the same
Mine orange, clashing with
Sallow skin
Sailor-suit themed
So proud until you walked in
Red, white and navy blue
Angelic blonde with eyes so
Caribbean ocean true
A fairy princess to my
Dark hair and eyes
An evil-looking Disney witch
At age seven
But we bonded

Mainly hung out at my apartment
Over the corner grocery store
Your mother with
A touch of violence
Similar to mine
But mine was working
So just us
Looking out on the vast expanse
Of Oregon Avenue
Never returned to your house
You’d shocked me when you stole
Money from your mom’s purse
Twenty-five cents
To buy us candy
But she caught you
So I got scared
And ran home

5th grade teacher
Shamed us every morning
If we had incomplete homework
You’d say to me
Before class started
“I have incomplete homework, do you?”
Lying unusual for most autistic children
And so I said “Yes”
And you said
“I don’t. So be sure to stand up
When teacher asks
Or I’ll tell on you”
This happened 3 times
And I finally got it
You challenged me
To learn not to trust
And how to read the clues
On a face: lie or truth
Impossible to know
When older I decided
The lies of a Gemini provided
A new perspective for me

When we were 13 I bought a cheap wig
Blonde
Hated my dark curls
You refused to walk to 7th Street
Where we shopped for
Lipstick at the Five & Dime
You said I looked awful
Must take off the wig
And should make the most of the natural curls
I didn’t make the most
But did take off the wig
To walk and talk with you
And in future, I knew
To really study the image
In my enemy the mirror

The thing I loved most
Was you coming to my home
After school
Especially in the winter
And we’d talk without a light
Sitting in the twilight
We were 15 and you taught me
To smoke
Kept the weight off, you said
And it did
Smoke, twilight
Your face would morph into
A soft, happy voice
As mine did too
And we were equals
In the gray light
No blonde, blue
No dark, bright
That year you told me you were
Once molested
By a family friend
And last week
You’d had sex with a man you met
At the coffeehouse we’d discovered
He taught you words like
“Pseudointellectual”
And I spiced up my sentences
Loving words so much
Not realizing
I was the pretentious
Pseudointellectual
Until you suggested it
But
You were also feeling depressed
You were also feeling hopeless
You were waiting for something
But what?
I sometimes felt the same
Hormones
If we’d been born Millennials
Instead of Baby Boomers
We could have googled
“Hormones in teenage girls”

At 16 I moved to New Jersey
And you didn’t want to visit
So it was two years before I saw you again
Although we’d talk on the phone
But not in smoke and twilight

Moving back to Philly
We picked up
Right where we left off
And at 19
You were at odds
I was dating a med student
You agreed to be fixed up
They picked us up
At my house
Saw your face
And both of them tripped over each other
Helping you into the car
While I stood by
In despair
Long black curls
Black eyes
Knowing I didn’t have a prayer
To feel good about myself that day
Because you were a gorgeous
Blue eyed blonde Disney princess
And I still the Disney witch

The following year I married
And never saw you again
Didn’t know anything about your life
Until told you died two years ago
And I thought how you were the one
Who always cared enough to tell me
How to act, fit in
Showed me your
Occasional inside ugliness
But also the inner beauty
Because you stuck by me
And all I could think about
Was how I never truly saw you
Was how I never truly cherished you
Wasting precious time because
I wished I was you…

(c) 2019 Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)
IMAGE: Sleeping Beauty & Witch