This poem, simple as it is, came to me after watching an episode (entitled Jitske, after the daughter’s name) of the Belgian series (with subtitles) Professor T. Apparently there are also versions in German, French and Czech. It being Belgian gives a wink and a nod to the famous detective of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, who is mentioned early in this series.
The show is about a quirky professor with significant diagnoses and mental health issues himself, including hallucinations, OCD and possibly autism or schizophrenia. Nonetheless, he is the perfect person to assist the Antwerp Federal Police, when they are solving a particularly sticky murder mystery.
In this episode, a young woman with Down Syndrome and Autism is a witness to her mother’s recent murder and knows significant information. But, according to Professor T., whose specialty is the psychology of criminals, the witness’s autism prevents her from sharing that information. She rigidly adheres to what she has been taught: to not be a tattle-tale. But also, that it’s ok to tell, if the other person already knows.
What I found most gripping and familiar in the episode was how difficult it can be, to draw out a response from someone, when they prefer not to respond. Even more so, if their preferred communication style is minimally verbal. Some things we may never know. But we must treasure the privilege of communication, since it allows us, briefly, occasionally, to pierce the murky shroud of another’s soul.
A knowing look.
And slacking jaw.
Hunt for clues.
(God, we’ve got
A lot to lose.)
So hard to find.
Copyright 2020 Andrea LeDew
For a poem inspired by Art Deco ( a style prominent in the Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot TV series,) set in the age of steamliners in Mumbai, India (which is chock-full of the style,) see: Bombay Deco.