Esther Ottaway – Autistic girls

Esther Ottaway LEP&W V4 Dec 2022

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Four December 2022.

The autistic girls’ mothers to astronaut Mike Collins, poem by Esther Ottaway.

The autistic girls’ mothers to astronaut Mike Collins

How could other parents understand
she can’t regulate, can’t dress, screams in wind?
Their girls touch down, their modules steady, small footsteps
breaking the moon-sand’s surface, their milestones
cosmic miracles of the ordinary. We long
for their basic okayness, their assumption
that the whole team will walk on the moon,
get to jump, twirl in the applause, treasure the video.
Like you, Mike, we come so close,
our deficiency the only explanation. We know your loneliness,
how compared to the others you have so little to say.
With you we calculate, re-check trajectories,
live cold in shadow, looking but never landing,
punch once more into the unyielding switches
our daily goals: feeding, bathing, schooling,
and sail again around the curve into black,
miles from our peers, excluded from it all.

© Esther Ottaway

Esther Ottaway is an award-winning and widely published Australian poet who was shortlisted in the Montreal International and Bridport Poetry Prizes in 2020. She is writing her third collection, about the experiences of women and girls on the autism spectrum, to be titled She Doesn’t Seem Autistic. And she doesn’t seem autistic. She lives in Tasmania/lutruwita.

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