Book Lungs

Paint over creases in the paper, in the archive, swish that color right into the edges till we shine, you
and I, we shine, bodies submerged emerge in the beaten still white page, skirt watery dispersion to
assemble, molecule by molecule, toward a reach, a breach, a stretch that lifts the chasm out of my
life. Paint in thick pastes to spackle over the cracks. Each squeeze displaces vacuum. 

Tiny spider finds a new home as the thickness rolls, licks and blobs. The hollow bursts into contour,
texture, with each breath and slap, it swells and hardens into new land, fit for a tender foot or tendril. 

And then there are hills and plains and the plants I knew by the ditch’s side, and the weight of the
kohlrabi head in my hand, and the feel of the rusty-dusty grid shielding the Station of the Cross
out there, in the middle of the field, and there was the witch’s leaky gondola, in an ancient castle
never found again, the thicket that never appears again, a mirage on the field grounds, flat horizon
falters against my sense memory. 

Pain thins, paint thickens, a wash of memory glistens on the land. Unsettled: the sediment stirs
into a new pattern. Mix it, pigment it, rub charcoal from ancient trees burned cinder hard a long
time ago. You and I, we build a fire, red orange blossoms out of old receipts, contracts, out-of-date
maps. We trace new districts in rising heat, each arc caresses bioluminescent motes that enliven
the air of our accreting, shielding, living lungs. 

We live as archives in the world, you and I, our book lungs spidering the land with ghost marks,
a tramp’s alphabet to signal: paint this nest. Here you can rest. 

Petra Kuppers (she/her) is a disability culture activist, a wheelchair dancer, and a community performance artist. Petra grounds herself in disability culture methods. She uses ecosomatics, performance, and speculative writing to engage audiences toward more socially just and enjoyable futures.

She teaches at the University of Michigan in performance studies and disability culture, in the English and Women’s and Gender Studies Departments. She is also an adviser on the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts at Goddard College.