A Mother Knows

A Poem for GTBank Autism Awareness campaign.

A Mother Knows

By Titilope Sonuga


Only a mother knows how miracles happen

how the spark of an idea becomes a heartbeat

how a universe is formed in the quiet of her womb


Only a mother knows how to house a galaxy in her body

how to speak its light into existence

and weave the thread of life in her gentle hands


A mother knows how to protect her child

how to swoop down and snatch it

from the mouth of any danger


This is what they say:

that mother knows best

guided by a spiritual intuition

an umbilical connection to her child


she anticipates every need before it arises

But no one prepares you for this

a body that betrays itself

a muddy gene pool


nerves that jam like a trigger

There is no manual for a lifetime

of standing in the gap

of stretching hope to its very limit

of crying out to God

to doctors

hoping madly for anything that can bend time

fold me back inside my own body

to find that errant string of DNA

and pluck it at its root


I want so desperately

to gather the mangled cells into my hands

hold them still and beg them

to give me back my child

weave them into a chord

a melody

a voice that can call me by name

say I see you

say I love you

say mama

But only the silence answers back

a shadow of a word

eyes that will not latch on


Fear presses into my belly

with open palms

forms a fist that knocks the air out


Strangers whispers crowd the room

judgment falling from their faces

for the mother of this child

whose body folds forward like a question

they cannot understand

this desperate wailing with no language


But I still remember how it felt

to house a universe in my belly

the quiet victory of your becoming

so for this child

I reach through membrane and blood memory

sit with you

match my body to your rhythm

vibrate back a love song

Even when your body is a wall I cannot get over

I will still love my way through to you

and I will wait

for that one look

one step

one word

the power of one touch


I will offer up my back again and again

for my rainbow child who dreams in color

who moves to a divine rhythm

even when I cannot hear it


Who knew

that I could mine joy from this sorrow

use your laughter as a balm

a kind of healing


So that when they ask about you

I will offer up my voice when yours fails

snatch you out of the mouth of any danger

guard your ears from the voices that follow

Tell them you are other worldly

you are magic and moon dust

you are a testament to a love that persists

inspite of itself.


This gift

this child who is still a miracle

this child who is still