(still a draft.
for a decade, I live in cities
where no one has a car
despite blizzards that close the Bergen subway stop
and extreme cold warning, exposed skin will freeze in seven minutes
on the radio
and those sleeping bag parkas you live in for six months straight
and- mostly- what I don't whisper-
bones that shiver and fall, that fear, that inch butterfly hipped grabbing on,
that stare desperate at the disabled seat on the ossington bus but do not know how to insist.
When I am in my really-broke early 20s, I ride a trike
in five layers of Kensington storefront thermal, leather jacket, hoodie and quilted vest
from cleaning job to Parkdale telemarketing even in January
and never say that it is not just cute, it is an adaptive device
Later, when my monthly income breaks $1,000, the subway and bus are open til 2 AM and give you unlimited transfers
and even though my arms hurt for days after lugging eight ripping
milk white plastic bags of organic groceries home from four stores with the cheapest deals
I never think about driving
but then I move to Oakland and discover what my friend says:
if you have fibro your car is one big electric wheelchair
whether you use a chair or not.
how many times have I been slumping to the side,
weaving down the street, a hoochie with a cane
dodging the bus bench dudes hollering you don't need that cane! cause I can carry you ma!
to fall out in your peeling velour embrace?
I can't stand up straight, remember my friend's name or how to open a door
but I can shift
and watch you inch up the 580 on ramp at 40 miles per hour
and make it to mills in 8 minutes
not two hours on the 57.
oh 92 honda accord station wagon
with no muffler to speak of and no radio,
with a broken small triangle window in the back that I gave up replacing
after the second time in two weeks-
regularly folks who are roofless make you their roof
and I am happy as long as no one pisses in you, which no one has, to date-
oh crip car into whose arms I fall after thirty years on public transit
you shelter me from the eyes of those penetrating vulnerability with hollers
and encase my fucked-up body
you are every other crip car some of us are lucky enough to have
carrying bones that ache and shiver out of our houses
and all our friends
to the trader joe's cheap organics, the acupuncture, the doctor's appointments and the bridge not the bus.
others might own house as some mark of adulthood and comfort
I have you.
as of september 2010, I'm committing to post one new piece a week (disability and travel may remix this intention.) all this work is shared under a Creative Commons license- credit if you share, no commercial use allowed.
This work by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.