Petra Kuppers


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The husk of a tiny dragonfly, translucent,
clings upside down on a yellow spear of grass
its roots clasp the dry wood of the deck.
Tiny white fibers everywhere: the planks, breathing,
expectorate their innards, wood weeps and uncoils
what it knew when it stood, tall in a wet Redwood forest,
before the chains of a truckbed, dark and long, bite, here,
where all trees are twisted into themselves against
the prevailing winds. On that white-spun deck,
I remember my watery nature, pour my liquid body
to wash away the pain of the shorter years,
to wash away the pain of a hollow embrace,
the feeling that we all will slide, not into the clear pool,
but into the murk of a place that should not be settled.

* * *


Inky cap: edible or poisonous, sat out too long in the rain.
Mantle erodes while you look, tears you can use for ink,
these are not black marks, in your book, not the liquids
deliberately mingling with your blood. If your system can't
take transformation, desist, curl your fingers around fluffier
stuff, the cat tail's losing it, too, melts down and pollutes
fine dander with the seedy edge. These lines are not tears.
We deliquesce, bloom out of line, without arthritic shifts,
slipstream on the pond's edge, time alchemies lift
us into multitudes. Your marks edge deeper, compress:
matter out of place accumulates, grooves a canyon,
stiffens your mood.


* Author's Note: "The Moon Botany series began as an exercise in armchair botany: my friend and visual artist Sharon Siskin went on wheelchair-inaccessible nature hikes and brought back found materials for a creative exchange with me. She arranged the physical objects on the wooden table of our artist-residency hut in the Oregonian outback, and I provided new narratives and emotional containers."


Petra Kuppers is a disability culture activist, a community performance artist and a teacher at the University of Michigan and on the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts at Goddard College. Her most recent collection is PearlStitch (Spuyten Duyvil: 2016). Poems and stories have appeared in PANK, Adrienne, Visionary Tongue, Wordgathering, Beauty is a Verb: New Poetry of Disability, textsound, Streetnotes, Festival Writer, Accessing the Future. She is also the author of Studying Disability Arts and Culture: An Introduction (2014), a book full of practical exercises for classrooms and studios.