“The poems of Karen Fiser astonish me with their honesty, alert wisdom, and exquisitely tender strength. She writes from a crucial place. I love the delicious startle of her images, the bravery of connections, the clear, sharp gaze…” -Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Yellow Glove, on Words Like Fate and Pain.
Karen Fiser earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Virginia, an M.F.A. from Mills College, and a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford. After a first career as a philosophy professor, she began writing poems during the onset of a struggle with illness and disability. Her poems have appeared in seven anthologies and many journals. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Wheelchairs That Kneel Down Like Elephants
Last night I rode a tightrope
with my wheelchair. No net.
The night before, I left my body
on the steep ground with its pain.
I walked again by leaning,
elbows careless on the wind,
hitching myself along in light surprise.
Days I am heavy,
a clumsy bear on wheels,
bumping into things
and smiling, smiling. Nights
I invent new means of locomotion:
flying velocipedes, sailcars,
wheelchairs that kneel down
like elephants, carry me carefully
up the long stairs. Intricate
engines of need and night and air.
(c) in the name of the poet or assigns. Used for educational purposes and for the promotion of the poet and personal growth of the reader.
- Write a poem about your dreams. What themes, metaphors, images occur and reoccur?
- Write about the loss of some aspect of health. What is no longer available to you? How do you manage that loss?
- Write anything that bubbles up in you from reading this poem. If it’s emotionally difficult, set the timer for 10 minutes. Take a break, read what you’ve written, and decide if you want to continue. If so, set the timer for another 10 minutes. Repeat.