My Brother Likes Green Apples, Not Red Apples

by: , June 12, 2020

© Photo by Hitter Rudolf

‘My Brother Likes Green Apples, Not Red Apples’ is a poem which follows my younger brother who is severely autistic. It observes his obsession with the news and his strained relationship with food during this pandemic. This poem is sad and at points heartbreakingly humorous given how important banal things are to my brother. It has an unusual but precise metre and works to connect taste and anxiousness. It expresses how both my world and my brother’s world have gently collided since I moved back in with my parents and this has resulted in different sensations and perceptions, but ultimately understanding.

The restrained graphical presentations of clinical vignettes of herbal tea and wrapped veg represent a containment against the chaos that threatens the differently ordered world of my brother. Due to his disability, my brother already had OCD tendencies and a restricted diet before COVID-19, and the virus has only intensified these things.

I wrote this poem because I want to see a systemic change. I feel anxious for my brother given his vulnerability and anxious about what it will mean to one day be his primary carer in a post-Covid 19 world. I also wanted to challenge my opposition to sentimentality, to push past the embarrassment I feel about most of my personal writing. It is the least I can do to try to help make the world a better place by participating in this special issue of MAI. I’ve never spoken about ASD in my work before. As a sister, I have felt a resistance towards bringing autism into that part of my life.

However, given how much my brother has done for me I need to represent his condition where he can’t. In writing this poem I have begun to realise just how much of an impression my brother has made on me whilst growing up. My work usually deals with political and environmental issues. I see now that my desire to encourage what is best for humanity is indebted to my brother. That my awareness of human suffering and optimism is indebted to my brother. I love my brother so much and want to see a system emerge that takes better care of and celebrates people like him. I would be nowhere without him.

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