Where does the future live in your body? Touch it 1 Sri Lankan radical women never come alone. We have a tradition of coming in groups of three or four. The Thiranagama sisters may be the most beloved and famous, but in the 20s my appamma and great aunties were the Wild Alvis Girls. Then there is your sister, your cousin, your great-aunts everyone infamous and unknown. We come in packs we argue we sneak each other out of the house we have passionate agreements and disagreements we love each other very much but can't stand to be in the same room or continent for years. We do things like, oh, start the first rape crisis center in Jaffna in a war zone in someone's living room. When war forces our hands, we all move to Australia or London or Thunder Bay together or, if the border do not love us, we are what keeps Skype in business When one or more of us is murdered by the State or a husband we survive whether we want to or not. I am an only child I may not have been born into siblinghood but I went out and found mine. Made mine. We come in packs even when we are alone Sometimes the only ancestral sisterlove waiting for you is people in books, dreams aunties you made up people who are waiting for you in the clouds ten years in the future and when you get there you make your pack and you send that love back 2. When the newly disabled come they come bearing terror and desperate. Everyone else has left them to drown on the titanic. They don't know there is anybody but the abled. They come asking for knowledge that is common to me as breath, and exotic to them as, well, being disabled and unashamed. They ask about steroids and sleep. About asking for help. About how they will ever possibly convince their friends and family they are not lazy or useless. I am generous- we crips always are. They were me. They don't know if they can call themselves that, they would never use that word, but they see me calling myself that, ie, disabled, and the lens is blurring, maybe there is another world they have never seen where crips limp slowly, laugh, have shitty and good days recalibrate the world to our bodies instead of sprinting trying to keep up Make everyone slow down to keep pace with us. Sometimes when I am about to email the resource list, the interpreter phone numbers, the hot chronic pain tips, the best place to rent a ramp, my top five favorite medical cannabis strains, my extra dermal lidocaine patch—it's about to expire, but don't worry, it's still good, I want to slip in a PS that says, remember back when I was a crip and you weren't, how I had a flare and had to cancel our day trip and when I told you, you looked confused and all you knew how to say was, Boooooooooo! as I was lying on the ground, trying to breathe? Do you even remember that? Do your friends say that to you, now? Do you want to come join us, on the other side? Is there a free future in this femme of color disabled body? 3. When I hear my femme say When I'm old and am riding a motorcycle with white hair down my back When I hear my femme say When I'm old and sex work paid off my house and my retirement When I hear my femme/myself say When I get dementia and I am held with respect when I am between all worlds When I see my femme packing it all in because crip years are like dog years and you never know when they're going to shoot Old Yeller When I hear my femme say when I quit my teaching gig and never have to deal with white male academic nonsense again When I hear us plan the wheelchair accessible femme of color trailer park, the land we already have a plan to pay the taxes on See the money in the bank and the ways we grip our thighs back to ourselves When I hear us dream our futures, believe we will make it to one, We will make one. The future lives in our bodies
Brown love is getting the pat down but not the secondary screening
and waiting after you clear to make sure the Sikh man or
the Black woman or the hijabis behind you get through
Brown love is asking the Punjabi guy working at the starbucks knockoff
if all the tea sizes are still the same price
and he says no,
it hasn’t been like that for at least four years,
but he slips you an extra tea bag without talking about it.
Brown love is the unsmiling aunty
at the disabled immigration line
anything to declare? No? No? Have a good day.
and your rice, semolina, kari karo seeds and jaggary all get through
even though they are definitely from countries
where there are insects that could eat america to the ground
Brown love is texting your cousin on whatsapp asking
if she’s ever had a hard time bringing weed tincture in her carry on
brown love is a balm
in this airport of life
where, if we can scrape up enough money
we all end up
because we all came from somewhere
and we want to go there
or we can’t go to there but we want to go to the place we went after that
where our mom still lives even though we fight
or our chosen sis is still in her rent controlled perfect apartment
where we get the luxury of things being like how we remember
we want to go to the place we used to live
and even if gentrification snatched the bakery
with the 75 cent coffee where everyone hung out all night
we can still walk the block where it was
and the thing about brown love is, nobody smiles.
nobody is friendly. nobody winks. nobody can get away with that
they’re all silently working their terrible 9 dollar an hour
food service jobs where tip jars aren’t allowed
or TSA sucks but it’s the job you can get out of the military
and nobody can get away with being outwardly loving
but we do what we can
brown love is the woman who lets your 1 pound over the 50 pound limit bag go
the angry woman who looks like your cousin
who is so tired on the american airlines customer service line
she tags your bag for checked luggage
and doesn’t say anything about a credit card, she just yells Next!
Brown love is your tired cousin who prays you all the way home
from when you get on the subway to when you land and get on another.
This is what we have
we do what we can.