The Best Little Brothel on Parramatta Rd
Parramatta Road is outside my apartment.
Coles delivery trucks tackle supercharged cars
down towards Auburn, Flemington and Granville all day.
On Saturday afternoon I pull
my newborn son from my breast
and press the clip on my nursing tank.
Outside the window, directly below
me and my milk-hungry son
is a sign stencilled on red brick:
open 10am to 10pm
I live on top of a brothel.
Growing up Black in America’s South,
I imagined brothels to be like
The Best Little Whore House in Texas
with busty Dolly Partons as madams. White nonsense.
Now, here in Sydney, I know even a
Relaxing Day Spa could be a brothel.
Or at least, there’s a chance to pay an
Asian masseuse fifty bucks for a happy ending.
Why are there so many along Parramatta Road?
The only thing that divides my view
of the brothel and the brothels view of me
are curtains with printed flowers over
the windows of my apartment.
Without them, the patrons who walk in
MASSAGE 508 can perve me
breastfeeding my baby.
I read on mumsandbubs.com that
some men are really into that.
At 1:30am, while feeding my Black-Brown son
a White guy in a navy business suit
parks his white A8 in the 2P space,
crosses the street and looks up at my pastel muslins
drying on the line, like his virility,
before descending the stairs to MASSAGE 508.
What is it about rich White men paying for sex?
I hate living above a brothel
think my home is a brothel.
Once, a short East-Asian man wearing a
reflective bicycle vest yanked on my front door
calling out, ‘I have appointment!’
‘Downstairs, downstairs!’ I yelled back
at him through the bolted door.
The anxious Asian then took,
three steps backward and doubled down the stairs,
tripping on the last. So keen to get some.
Out the window I saw his Reid commuter bike
chained to my apartment stairs. I wanted to go out
and kick it over but instead I shouted out the window:
‘Tell your customers not to come to my fucking door!’
My son cries for his dummy at 2:00am again.
The White guy still hasn’t come out.
I let my floral curtains fall across the window
knowing I’ll have to go out to my car for the dummy.
My son has to sleep. I have to sleep. I have to walk past the brothel.
I wrap my son in crinkled muslin, flick back
my dreads, put on slippers, pull on my robe.
When I push open the door to the car park
someone calls out to the White guy, ‘See you next time.’
I pull my son closer to my chest.
Get Some Sleep
On my way back up the stairs,
I see a narrow South-East Asian woman
shiny black hair held back by a scrunchie,
floral robe embroidered in fuschia and violet
holding a basket of sateen garments
in her thin, pale arms
fresh out the washing machine.
She asks how old my baby is in a thick voice
heavy with accent and nicotine. Her teeth are white and straight.
I tell her he’s five weeks. What I really want to tell her is that
I’ve never met a sex worker before.
She flicks a stray strand of black hair back and says,
‘I have two boys; four and seven. Get some sleep. You’ll need it.’
She walks back to MASSAGE 508.