curb cut cartography

By | 1 February 2018


the trailing end of november is filled with
medical appointments followed by house
parties hosted by mates who live around
the corner from my doctor whose practice
is heritage listed thus preventing her from
putting in a ramp unlike my mates who are
prevented from putting in a ramp by their
landlord who explains that complying with
the Disability Discrimination Act of 1992
would be a source of unjustifiable hardship


on the journey home from physiotherapy
my Gamilaroi neighbour sees me struggling
says you want a hand? yeah i say flustered
fold my handles up so he can gently guide
me backwards off the barrier curb his arms
are strong you good? he asks yeah thanks i
got it from here! – i don’t – after trundling
across the street i find a dearth of curb cuts
on the opposite side also & resign myself to
several minutes of public embarrassment he
notices & rushes over to help saying nothing
of the bright blush hotly rising on my cheeks
i am terribly grateful for his tactful silence &
for the fact that when i am safely grounded on
level pavement he says again you good? as if
it is the first time he has said it & when i say
yeah thanks i’m good – he nods & lets me go


i used to bike down here back when i could ride
a bike before the area became a favourite haunt
of hipsters & dickheads sipping Early Grey gin
back in my day the area was already gentrifying
but at least we didn’t listen to live ukulele bands
i have a better set of wheels these days & the bike
tracks have been repaved & given names. dalgal
means mussel in Dharawal dialect as recorded by
William Dawes as told to him by Patyegarang who
in 1790 was told that if she washed herself enough
she would become white – to which she replied
Tyerabárrbowaryaou: I shall never become white


this street was infamous once – i used to call it
the obstacle course & everyone walking down
with me knew why: paving stones broken to shit
by the lashing roots of gum trees ripping through
a street already too steep for comfort & scattering
stray twigs leafy debris the occasional treacherous
gumnut & not a single decent curb cut to speak of.
nobody else could push me down that road. it had
to be navigated alone. wheeling hand on rim gave
me perfect control over the tiniest of movements
though i swear i nearly died a dozen times on that
hellish stretch the challenge was exhilarating until
one day suddenly the whole lot had been repaved


in summer my sister & i race madly down the
road to the local bottle-o prompted by urgent
alcoholic drought eight minutes to closing time
two minutes of which are eaten up heaving me
over the threshold like some cumbersome bride
in a fairytale lacking universal design. the lone
cashier’s face falls & i tell him We’ll be quick
while my sister dashes downstairs following a
sign that reads BEER THIS WAY leaving me
to linger at the till uncomfortably aware that i
am dangerous in this space walled in by towers
of precariously stacked discount wine i am the
bull in the bottleshop Asterion in the labyrinth
so i pretend to be very interested in a bottle of
thirty dollar rosé called Cockfighter’s Ghost &
wait for my sister to grab a sixpack of dreadful
cider & a packet of Winfield menthols so we can
get the fuck out of here. on our way back home
traversing broken pavement littered with broken
glass i see someone has abandoned a cork from
an expensive bottle of champagne in the gutter

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