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The Mighty Drip / The Photo SHOOT

Poetry by Janet I. Buck
Medford, Oregon

Janet Buck teaches writing and literature at the college level. She has published poetry in a wide variety of e-zines, journals, and anthologies around the world and received numerous creative writing awards. "Introspection's porcupine,"she says, "is an odd creature that comes in everyshape and size. The tangled roots of mine are whetted by the rains of being born disabled. I have spent most of my life using stoic pride to squeeze what toes I had and didn't have into the brutal shoe of normalcy. Poetry, for me, is a tuba in a long parade that chases sorrow and pain to its dissolution."

The Mighty Drip

The mighty drip--self-pity's shower.
I hated its heat. Hated its chill.
One of five existent toes, bleeding
from the wear of just plain move,
my tooth chipped, hips like
wheelbarrows in mud.
Your presence in my mind returned.
Legs and arms were mashed potatoes.
"From what?" I wondered:
"MS, CP, stone paralyzed?"
Hideous crimes of scorching fate.
Mortal sweating cattle roped.

The parking lot was crammed with cars.
You sat, strapped in a rolling chair,
waiting for the "crippled" van.
Surrounded by sunlit mink-fur,
silk-lined motion. There wasn't
one glitch of justice to be found.
This palsy of jellyfish squirming
in jaws of coral reefs--
nudged me toward grateful.
Almost guilty that I moved,
I grabbed the wall of falling bricks.
Walked with the stifled stride
of a rifled bird--with zip-locked pride;
grabbing the feeble and familiar dip
of unmatched limbs that knew
the ground was always there
beneath the stubborn crust of will at play.

Ours was an ocean most,
thank God, would never know
with raw, raw nerves exposed to eyes.
Your limbs there. Mine were gone.
Both drew dread to step around.
That tongue, sideways, still--
knew not where on earth to turn
and "Normal" knew not what to say.

The Photo SHOOT

Thinking I've made great strides
in dealing with this "crippled shit"
and removed myself from
the delusion that a Barbie Doll
is the Statue of Liberty,
I let you bring our camera to the pool.
When its shutter clicked,
I stuttered some and hugged
the water for a robe.

The pictures sat for eons of hours
on the counter unopened.
Approaching them as ludicrous
as ice-skating on a pair of stilts.
I could touch the ones of my face
and my hands and our puppy
sailing her water bowl like a satellite
across the kitchen floor.
But the blatant shots of my legs,
my God, left bullets in my hide.

Do I look so shriveled and twisted
with bones in shapes
of pencils chewed?
Is my calf a spindled carrot
with lumps for a foot?
Is simple equilibrium
THAT missing when I walk?

Is it, then, such a terrible sin
to wear tents to breakfast and bed?
Keep curtains drawn with wine
when naked knocks for sex?
Knowing nowhere else to turn,
I burn the full-length pictures
in the campfire of an
altogether crucial poem,
fold closets of over-sized clothes
I confess I'm quite addicted to.

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Published in In Motion Magazine December 19, 1998