Sunday, 24 May 2009

A Birth

I’m painting windows

listening to noise outside;

teenagers shouting above an autumn wind.

Normal teenage girls, I guess.


Back to Andrew’s birth and a room

-       sky blue and white – high on a hill

in Yorkshire. For 40 minutes in a life

he seemed normal. Then

they said I should hold him

and so I did

as any firstborn father cradles – clumsily -

and he transformed:

‘Down’s Syndrome probably’ they said.


Shock. Grievous. Tears soaked

through family. Loss

of expectation flowed.

We couldn’t see! Embarrassing now, unaware,

as I clumsily drip paint onto cold pink hands,

that a teacher had been born.


  1. This is so beautiful, John. Thank you for sharing it. It brought tears to my eyes!

    I have two children on the autistic spectrum and the have been the brightest blessings of my life!

  2. One might think that he teaches only you but he has managed to teach a lot of us. I can't imagine those first crushing moments. Must have shattered & brought chaos about in your soul. But now, now you pass what you've learned on to us. You even pass on the blast of confused wonder that must hit you. I say this because it has hit me. Keep going

  3. My goddaughter, Lili, is down syndrome ( or "T23") and she, too, is a little teacher. Thank you for a beautiful poem.

    Stacy Alexander
    (ARTISTstacy on Twitter)

  4. all i am is a student... of life. ready & willing to learn. teach me!

  5. How beautiful! You brought me back to a November
    afternoon, the most beautiful, amazing Day of my Life...
    Thank you for your exquisitely worded picture, and for being an
    Agent of Change.

  6. Truly a lovely and touching poem.

  7. All of your poetry is absolutely wonderful. And what a smart boy to choose a Father like you. You are absolutely right he is here to teach and I am so pleased to know you know that. You might enjoy the work of Dr Brian Weiss one of his videos talks about the disabled being higher spirits here to teach. I think the video is entitled physical appearance and autism.

  8. Beautiful, heartfelt and moving. I so felt your words as you wrote. Fwiw, my son was born at 2lbs 8 ounces and I know that feeling when they tell you "something could be wrong". Your world stops, but your love for your baby does not.

    I agree w/Phoenix 143 in that your son is a higher spirit here to teach..

  9. really touched me.

  10. Dear John Oh Oh Oh :) tears of Joy to the lesson you and your son Andrew have given all who read this Poem. (and the many others of Andrew & your Life that is shown in your beautiful poetry )
    This one however is Just that a lesson in a message through poetry to all of us to Think about how we are taught to see things in often such boxed & what happens often negative ways, particularly when we give thought to that horrid word NormaL .. IT just does Nothing of positive worth for anyone or thing ...I personally think. :) Thank you again for sharing with me your poetry it is always a Wonderful experience for me : kind regards Beez ;)

  11. Very touching poem. Your words are passionate.

  12. A gripping poem. I could feel your pain,confusion and love. He picked a great dad.

  13. Aided by a translator I have read your beautiful poem. I want to congratulate him and giv my full support. Regards.

  14. This is a beautiful and very touching piece.

  15. Words to touch the soul. Emotive and beautiful. Many thanks for sharing