Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Adaptive device

I mean to give you a poem like an adaptive device
that will hold you just as good
as your favorite cane
bed sling, accessible toilet seat,
rescue ventilator.
Cigarette          crushed pocket Xanax            cortisone shot
Blanket weight            Mad map sign. 
Give you the words that are what I know how to do
Give you the words that will take meaning, make language
make a word house to hold you, open doored and firm roofed
Shelter.  The steady tap tap thrum of your cane tip.
The steady roll of the charged battery
of your chair, your brain, humming.

What does it mean to call a poem
an adaptive device?   A piece of beautiful supportive tech
that puts in work to keep you alive?
Something your doctor will sneer at and never understand
you mean, you just walk around with a cane all the time?
Something the newly crip say
I don't want to be, you know, pathetic, I just need a little help.

This poem will never be found in a packet of home care instructions.
This poem will never be taught in medical school.
This poem is not behind the counter at the pharmacy or OTC.

If poetry is a means of telling the truth, June,
and poetry is as sturdy butterfly as the steady tap of my cane's dance,
then poetry is crip. Then truth is crip.
Then this poem be a crip hand to hold you.

This poem is short enough for even my memory to remember it!
This poem can be whispered or signed.
This poem unspools from a drooling lip
This poem can be sung from augmented communication!
This poem spoken from gesture and nuance
This poem is non verbal
This poem is crip kindness
This poem thinks you are desirable and love is coming,
Is here. This poem will help you get on and off the subway.
This poem is a reason to live.

read leah's biography

Return to issue 3: january 2017