“On Whether the Earth Is Flat, Round, or There at All” by Esther Ottaway

Esther Ottaway


dyspraxia, developmental
topographical disorientation

It means not knowing where you are in space, 
your arms and legs, your clumsy feet, your hands;
the door, and how you get from here to there, 
forgetting how this puppet walks or stands
(exhausting). And, more broadly, means not knowing
where you are in the building, or the street, 
the suburb where you’ve lived for twenty years. 
Means driving round till you admit defeat
in a tangle of roads that disconnect,
trying to find the familiar shop or school, 
your work, your friends; this often brings on tears. 
To travel is to struggle like a fool
because, despite the Google maps, the signs,
the sun, you stay as lost as when, at three,
you let go of your mother’s hand and stood
terrified, mouthing shopping-centre pleas;
it’s why you take a taxi, not a train,
miss entrances, ask people where things are,
eat in the one cafe you know, again,
because you dare not walk a bridge too far. 
It makes the world veer, shift, and be nowhere. 
Come here to me. Don’t make me meet you there.

from Rattle #71, Spring 2021
Tribute to Neurodiversity


Esther Ottaway: “I am an Australian poet, an autistic woman raising an autistic daughter; we have ADHD and many more conditions, which are part of the autism spectrum. Our physical health is also affected. Since we are not boys, we have had to fight hard to get diagnoses and support and are still working on this. I am currently writing my third book of poetry, titled She Doesn’t Seem Autistic, about the experiences of women and girls with autism and its related conditions.” (web)

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