A tremendously moving, carefully considered poetic account of the author’s efforts to open the mind of a differently abled child–her own.
Dark Card is Foust’s chronicle-in-verse of her son’s struggles with Asperger’s Syndrome, an obsessive form of autism primarily characterized by the patient’s significant–and sometimes debilitating–inability to socially interact. One could imagine such a project quickly descending into melodrama and self-pity as the author ticks off her laundry list of complaints against the dastardly fates that altered her son’s behavior (the umbilical cord wrapped around his throat a moment too long), the society that cannot understand his condition and the daunting myriad of challenges involved in raising such a unique child. However, to Foust’s great credit, her slim, powerful volume never does. She arouses readers’ sympathy and challenges their biases, but always with a subtlety and poise that belies her most intimate connection to her subject. In fact, she makes a fantastically effective case for the poetic nature of her son’s mind. Straight prose–that most rational of written forms, slave to causality–seems an inept means of evoking a brain so differently oriented to the natural world. Thus Foust makes of her own poetry–crisp, precise free verse with carefully varied line lengths–a specialized vehicle for telling her reader about her fascinating child. She does so no better than in one of the last pieces in the book, â€œAsperger Ecstasy,” in which she revels in trying to show her son’s rapturous attention to detail: â€œOh, never to grow bored or experience a numbing / sameness of things! To immerse consciousness / in the sensory present of a bottle cap flattened by traffic, / or spend a whole school day with a paperclip stylus / carving whorls and curlicues in acorns, given / to the teacher instead of the worksheet.” This is Foust at her best, and much of her verse is nearly as good.
Scrupulous, compelling poetry.