Poor sweetheart. I guide him to bend over the couch, watching videos of trains on my phone. While he is completely entranced, I rip open the alcohol swab.
What if the pharmacy gave us the wrong stuff?
I pull down his diaper. Then wash his buttocks. Smooth skin. Today the right cheek.
MotherBear5: It’s the only thing that’s helped.
AutismWarrior: After eight years, my son finally said “mama.”
Slow, as if I am conducting music. My hand goes up and down. His skin radiant, alive. I press the alcohol-soaked pad.
I could run this swab over him for hours. He could watch trains for hours. I take off the cap. Needle hovers. Fucked-up little machine.
Thin as a shred, sharp as a steak knife.
I hold his skin taut. Our pediatric nurse said to aim between 15 and 40 degrees. Sink the needle into his baby fat.
Autistic brain cells. Lesions. Atrophy. Studies of dendrites. Recent headline: Brains of Autistic Children Like Alzheimer’s Patients.
Blur. Sofa mealy-colored. The room appears pixelated. His bare cheeks. It’s done.
He flinches. Sticky bubbling in his throat rises. Then roars, wail delayed. He pulls his feet, arms, fingers tightly to his body, away from me. Betrayed.
I approach him like a stray, brush the hair around his ears, then rest my head on his smooth back until the video ends.
Sherine Elise Gilmour graduated with an M.F.A. in Poetry from New York University. She was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming from Green Mountains Review, Public Pool, River Styx, So To Speak, Tinderbox, and other publications.