Monday, 23 September 2013

Memories in a silent world

My daughter has special needs and her most profound difficulty is that she cannot talk. She uses symbols and a assisted communication device to talk. Through the wonderful program Proloquo2go she navigates pages of symbols to express her needs, wants, fears and desires. Sometimes she won't use it and just points to things in the room or in photographs, or relies on us, her parents understanding her needs.

She has always loved books and stories and photographs. One of her most used requests is "Can you show me the photos on your phone?". She pours over images and wants to know who they are. The best ones are about her and what she has done.

She needs us to provide a narrative for her life, to speak for her, to put words into her hands and mouth. Every week we record a story for her, which we then put on her iPad to listen to when ever she wants.

This is a poem about what it is like to be part of her memory process.

History makers

how does memory work without language to articulate it?
in a silent world outsiders words are the carriages of experiences
our words mollify potential fears, current events narrated
and history recorded

as her week revolves
we stumble through adventures and torments, banality and battles
moments of joy and of despair, with or without us
all of which to be remembered, for future reference

friday is history day
eagerly anticipated and demanded with rightous vigour
finger stabbing at the symbol
pleading and confirming, it is today, it should be now

the subject matter has to be agreed
there is little room for negotiation
repetition is the order of the day
hopes and anticipate events are also to be conjured up

egocentric recounts of daily activities
events we never witnessed are re-imagined 
minutia of encounter, actions, scares and outcomes
constructed as  claustrophobic  adventures with Ruby as the principle character

she is the heroine, or aggrieved  party
at once the wise observer, then the initiate
the happy participant, the leader, always playing her part
always the focus of our love. 

some stories spill like lego from a toy box
colourful, multi-shaped detail ridden
others, through weary parents, trudge forth, stubborn to be born
all must be produced, history must be recorded

round and round we go with the same same stories
the same places, the times and locations merge
a stream of average happenings
samples of a life's routine 

she devours the finished product, again and again
falling to sleep, MP3s burying it into her dreams
filled away in her growing collection, the catalogue of her life

as retold by us, for she who cannot recount

No comments:

Post a Comment