Collage, we’re all composed of pieces. Child with Aspergers. Undiagnosed until 58. Believes ‘I love you’. Attractive woman knees crossed, office. Tissue paper crumple glued at her feet, young woman. Looking up, “I love you.”
Doesn’t understand: “ I’m only saying this as a therapist so you transfer your feelings onto me.” Aspergers, literal. How can you be so literal?!
Next: bed, trunk, closet. Childhood lockings-in. Small girl on bed, teddy bear and thumb. Never knew when the door would open, hours stretched, heart-pounding endlessness. I hint at monster underneath, hook and eye on closet door latched at bedtime, another monster.
Macro composition: rusted hook, outside of the door. So high no child can reach.
Flip page. Toddler, little fingers pull at bib, “too tight, too tight.” Quinsy swelled throat, hospital. Historically nobody understood a mother’s arms. Child screaming Mommie, nurse carries her away.
Parents in waiting room. Smoking, tissue for the twist of smoke weaving to the ceiling. Mother will be haunted, her baby’s voice her whole life. Head bowed, ash grows. Smear of gray pastel.
Her name never spelled right. Alcoholism, jealousy who knows. How invisible a person feels.. List of all the ways her name is not-spelled.
Jumping ahead young woman forsaken. Doesn’t fit mother’s cookie-cutter daughter. Thin. College. Her arms wrap around a purring cat, feels like she is going before a firing squad. I cut out a row of paper dolls.
Treasures mother threw away while she was at school. A sketched-in closet, toy box. She is six, silhouetted from behind, hands flutter like birds, I give them wings, she searches. Why did mother do this?
Still life, teddy bear, Dovey. Fur worn, grandmother sewed overalls, his seams split.
Thumb sucking. Child on mom’s lap, dentist threatens to screw a block to the roof of her mouth. Mom smokes in car, child clutches bear. Adults decree Dovey, a germ carrier, soaked him in the sink, forgotten in oven to dry. I draw a sink, suds, oven door. White enamel, black trim. Smoke wisps, pastel streaks.
Still life: blackened, smoke-stinking, beloved. I smear charcoal, so hard stick breaks. She sobs. Four years old. Love sparks creativity, will stomping up and down on him awhile get the stench out? I dip a brush in blue paint, spray dots over the young girl mid-air, teddy beneath her coiled legs. Witch faces when she scoots into supper seat smiling, bear on her lap. One button eye peaks from a fold of table cloth.
“to learn to protect herself a child needs protection.” Sacrificed, no safety, locked doors, hospitals, doctors offices, treasures rummaged, this page a pirate, one boot on a pile of plunder.
Mother lied. Child can’t. Aspergers. I draw a magpie, play of black and white. I flip back to shrink, crumpled tissue girl at her feet, who taught her to lie.
Flip forward. Pediatrician’s for polio vaccine. Child’s face white, I smear it to cold car window, silver paint. She asks, “Dr. Lewis isn’t going to give me a shot, right?”
In exam room she tells doctor mom said she’ll get no needle, her reflection suggested in his glasses’ round lenses. No shot, gave mom excellent advice she ignored until the day she died: Never lie to your child.
Boundaries. collage a mishmash, stone walls, barbed wire, chain link, doors with locks, therapist’s screams that girl violated her damn boundaries? Reality, manipulating girl unasked for medications, bizarre behavior—remember the Christmas of the shoplifted crèche figurines? Walmart bathroom sign “ $2000 fine: subject to prosecution”?
Factor in Aspergers.
Rachael Ikins is a 2016/18 Pushcart nominee, 2018 Independent Book Award winner, 2021 Best of the Net nominated author/artist with 9 books. Her art has appeared across the region and in NYC, Paris, France and Washington DC. Syracuse University grad, member CNY branch NLAPW, and Associate Editor of Clare Songbirds Publishing House, Auburn, NY.