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 You and I, we build a fire, red orange blossoms out of old receipts, contracts, out-of-date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’s fourth poetry collection, Diver Beneath the Street, investigates true crime and ecopoetry at the level of the soil (forthcoming from Wayne State University Press, February 2024). She teaches at the University of Michigan, and is a 2022 Dance/USA Fellow and a 2023 Guggenheim Fellow.