Thursday, 13 September 2012

How to talk to a new lover about Cerebral Palsy by Eli Clare

Tell her: Complete stingers 
have patted my head, kissed
my cheek, called me courageous.

Tell this story more than once, ask
her to hold you, rock you
against her body, breast to back,

her arms curving around, only
you flinch unchosen, right arm trembles.
Don’t use the word spastic.

In Europe after centuries
of death by exposure
and drowning,
they banished us
to the streets.

Let her feel the tension burn down your arms,
tremors jump. Take it slow: when she asks
about the difference between CP and MS,

refrain from handing her an encyclopedia.
If you leave, know that you will ache.
Resist the urge to ignore your body. Tell her:

They taunted me retard, monkey,
defect. The words that sank into my body.
The rocks and fist left bruises.
Gimps and crips, caps
in hand, we still
wander the streets but now
the options abound: telethons,
nursing homes, welfare lines.

Try not to be ashamed as you flinch and tremble
under her hands. Think of the stories you haven’t
told yet. Tension locks behind your shoulder blades.

Ask her what she thinks as you hands shake
along her body, sleep curled against her,
and remember to listen: she might surprise you. 


2 of my fav Eli quotes from the Queerness and disability conference:

I want to get hot and bothered. I want to read about wheelchairs and limps, hands that bend at odd angles and bodies that negotiate unchosen pain, about orgasms that aren’t necessarily about our genitals, about sex and pleasure stolen in nursing homes and back rooms where we’ve been abandoned, about bodily—and I mean to include the mind as part of the body—differences so plentiful they can’t be counted, about fucking that embraces all those differences. I want to watch smut made by and for queer disabled people and our lovers, friends, allies, our experiences told from the inside out. I want fucking, delicious one night affairs, but please don’t leave out the chivalrous romance. Let’s face it: I want it all. It’s time. I want us to turn the freak show on its head, to turn away from the folks who gawk and pity us, who study and patronize us, who ignore us or fetishize us. I want us to forget them and remember each other as we declare and create our sexualities.

I am looking for friends and allies, communities where gawking, gaping, staring finally turns to something else, something true to the bone. Places where strength is softened and tempered, love honed and stretched. Where gender is more than a simple binary. Places where we encourage each other to swish and swagger, limp and roll, and learn the language of pride. Places where our bodies become home.

White, disabled, and genderqueer, Eli Clare happily lives in the Green Mountains of Vermont where he writes and proudly claims a penchant for rabble-rousing. He has written a book of essays Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness, and Liberation (South End Press, 1999, 2009) and a collection of poetry The Marrow's Telling: Words in Motion (Homofactus Press, 2007) and has been published in many periodicals and anthologies. Eli speaks, teaches, and facilitates all over the United States and Canada at conferences, community events, and colleges about disability, queer and trans identities, and social justice. Among other pursuits, he has walked across the United States for peace, coordinated a rape prevention program, and helped organize the first ever Queerness and Disability Conference. When he's not writing or on the road, you can find him reading, hiking, camping, riding his recumbent trike, or otherwise having fun adventures. 

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