My Raucous, Singing Ear

By and | 15 September 2022

On the Train

I’m sitting on a blue seat, two red ones in front of me and a sign above them illustrating what priority seating looks like. Outside the window of the metro train, the day speeds past the planted trees, the parked cars, cottages, cafes, bicycles and prams. Red is for a person with half a leg and a crutch, and it looks as though the crutch has morphed into the person’s arm. Disability is all sorts of body parts, I see no need to linger. I am heading to the city, wearing boots that rise to my knees, protecting my ankles from excess atoms bouncing off one another with such fury they’re bound to trip me up. Red is for the person with a ball-tipped cane in one hand and lead attached to a dog in the other. The outline of the animal makes me think of my dog, and for a second I forget how fast we’re going. There will be a lot of people in the city, each one trying to match the other’s pace. As a group, it will look like they’re chasing after the rolling cars but haven’t the stamina or grace. I’m dealing with the sensorially complex; it doesn’t have to be rational. A red seat is for the person bent at the knees, spine at an angle, leaning on a stick shaped like a giant candy cane. And there will be noise in the city, invasive as rockets. Red for those with large bellies harbouring babies that haven’t a clue what they’re getting into, how each scream at the time of their birth will blast new light into their world. There will be traffic noise and footsteps and birdcalls and alarms and voices talking; the wind will mingle with every leaf; insects buzzing on the breeze. The sign says to please remember that not all disabilities are visible. The vibrations of the train are in my head, like the city will be with all those rushing feet, my knee-high boots in slow-mo, trying to catch the rotation. There is no image of what a person with invisible disability might look like.

            my flannel dress
                        my mounded breasts
                                    my ever-growing beauty mole
                                    the holes in my ears 
my grandfather’s eyes 
my head-top bun 
                                    my thinking brain 
                                                my dimpled thighs 
these inner frights 
my just-cut nails
these eating teeth
                        this gobbled mess
                                                these pounds of flesh 
                                                                        this healthy tan

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