• Erin Clark

Scoliosis of Politics




Day three of senate hearings. 11 hours yesterday. Today, halfway through a landscape of witnesses and the sun, I pause, my body.

The issue before the committee is literally grave. My body before the sun sweats, I flush with blood and heat.

I record video of my skin absorbing rainbow colours as I roll my wheelchair backwards through a tight pass to stay in the shaft of light where it is angled between my clothing rack and my curio. Clink of metal, scrape of metal, the hue of my collar bone changes along with the spectrum of experiences.




My cheeks prickle in the heat, tight and tender skin after so long in paleness.

The rainbows drip out the side of my mouth and down my collar bone, outline my breast in indigo in the silhouette of my body on the wall. The rainbows look like bruises. I move around the rectangle of my bed, the tight square of my room, to re-encounter the light.



I soak in sun, light rippled by the scum on my window, not a romantic dapple, but still light. I agree with those I disagree with, disagree again, my skin moistens, I am wearing hot pink leg warmers and a gold cuff bracelet.


Hours upon hours of testimony. That I can follow along at all, let alone filter through my own mind and experience, is because Catherine Frazee —my elder in the disability community— has spent generous and careful time telling me the history, context and content of this legislation, teaching me a new language, and the story of our rights as a people in this country from her experience as the commissioner of the human rights council. Her careful tending to me leads to my tending to the proceedings. I bake the skin on my chest. When the sun sets, and for a while into the shade, it will radiate warmth.




My stomach growls for food, sustenance. I brush my hair as Gabrielle Peters provides the committee with the evidence a human rights lawyer said did not exist concerning abuse against disabled people in Canada.



Disabled people speak. For. Against. For. Against. And these are not the only contrasts to reconcile among peers. Doctors disagree. Lawyers disagree. Legislators for, against

I wonder at the geometry of all the positions, lines angling against one another. My crossed legs, their crossed views, intersecting and curving violently away, like a scoliosis of politics.


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