Chico writer Joan Goodreau wrote of her son’s disorder in “Strangers Together: How My Son’s Autism Changed My Life” (2013). In her new book experience becomes poetry and she imagines as well how Ian’s brother and sister see him. Then she moves into perhaps deeper waters in poems exploring “separation,” reunion with family and friends, and her own breast cancer diagnosis.
“Another Secret Shared: And Other Poems” ($9.95 in paperback from CreateSpace; available locally at Lyon Books in Chico) turns the dailyness of routine into art. The dreams of life can only reach an “Approximation”: “I must accept my own approximations. … Email’s my memoir/ shopping list my poetry/ run to the car late my marathon/ push the shopping cart my dance.”
In “My Reading At Lyon Bookstore,” it is “thirty years after my son Ian’s/ diagnosis of autism. … Suddenly I see Ian tall/ stride through the audience and/ present me with a bouquet like/ I’m an opera singer taking a bow/ to show me that our book’s story still continues unfolding. …”
The poet sees Ian through his brother, together “grown like thistles through cement”: “When I listened to my music/ he swung his body to and fro/ a metronome.” And Ian’s sister, in “Warning”: “When Ian was only as big as/ my cabbage-patch doll/ I nuzzled his cottony head and/ adopted him for my own.”
Later, the poet’s own diagnosis. In “Visualize,” she writes, “My friend says gather the negatives of my life/ let them go with the lump to be removed./ But some things go too deep to find/ even with radioactive markers and dye/ too deep to dig out.”
Yet, as she remembers in “First Poem,” when her grandmother told the young poet that poetic license means you can invent a word that rhymes, “At the edges of my life when/ I fall off in love or grief/ I search around for the right word but then/ use grandma’s license to make it up.”
Lyon Books in downtown Chico will host a reading and book signing with the author Tuesday, September 23, at 7:00 p.m.