Breath & Shadow

A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature




Disability Culture
            For Jim Ferris

Here live the Cyclopes - one-eyed giants,
the Hecatoncheires - those with a hundred hands –
the first disabled people, freaks of the Earth.
Oh, how the sight frightened the father,
who hid them deep,
stopped up in the mother’s bowels.
They swelled up Gaia’s womb,
hummed and danced in the caverns of Tartarus.
She screamed:
Aia! Aia!
It hurts! It hurts!
And plotted with Cronos to end the monstrous regime.
Honing words to a razor,
with a sickle of adamantine,
flash of crystal clock clarity,
time’s poet son unhooked his father’s jewels,
sacks of flesh now, wrinkled, aged,
and tossed them to the sea,
to bear one beauty on a wave,
to release sisters and brothers from the deep.

But tell me, crip poet,
What do we remember of those Tartarus dances,
When we sleep-rock, pill-suck, give the cool round metal to the hot street curb?
What was the counterpoint to Gaia’s cries?
When flesh was still melded,
thousand fingers to a body,
one lid with silken lashes,
spines uncoiling,
brother and sister not names we knew,
What mutterings stirred?

Petra Kuppers is a disability culture activist, a community artist and an Associate Professor of English at the University of Michigan. A poem of hers is part of a collaborative videowork: check it out on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCU1MHyRFC4

Tell us what you think about this author's work or about this month's issue in general. Email: breathandshadow@gmail.com

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