I give talks

I give talks
Talks about Autism mostly
I write them for schools
Conferences, workplaces
Anything really.

I’ve launched events
Been a keynote
An expert
An invited speaker
I’ve put in abstracts
Pleas and supplications.

I’ve been singled out from the podium
(‘It’s an honour to have Jeanette in the audience’)
I’ve been ignored
Called the wrong name
My bio read off a scrap of paper - complete with typo.

I wonder sometimes if I have groupies
I know there are tall poppied people who hate me
You tend to lose your humanity once you are ‘the competition’.
But I am still not oblivious to their rudeness
If I am to be a robot I must be Marvin - paranoia intact and sensitivity charged.

I get questions from parents
Stressful those - for I cannot fix the issue, no matter how desperate the plea
Challenging comments from advocates
Even an occasional argument from a variety of quarters.

When I give talks I become an oddity
An object of uncomfortable respect.
As if this activity I do for pleasure is of some rare value.
But my non-work work is just a function, like baking a cake, hugging a child, cleaning the streets.

Though I do love my vocation
Each time I climb those steps
A moment before I launch into my recitative
My refrain
I stop for a moment
Smile at the people in their hard seats
Utter to myself the same mantra
‘Let’s do this thing. Let’s change the world.’
And I hope in my little, unimportant, incidental way, that I will.