Kate Peper

Cut Offs

A grease spot and a puff of feathers
where a bird had hit the window.
All that’s left is a leg and claw
curved into an ampersand
that once linked bird to tree and nest.
It lies in my hand unfastened
to anything.
I bury it.

Finally! I was ready to let them go.
she laughs as she tells me
why they cut off her legs.
Black things. Useless.
Now she sits in her wheeled throne,
smiling, a nurse plumping her pillow.

I imagine her shoes swept
into a garbage can.
Her legs burning to ash.
She will never again feel her weight
on this earth.

On her birthday, she danced
in a tiered skirt—a fan flaring
under string lights.
I remember her voice pitched
above the music, I’m traveling!
Where?, we asked.
Anywhere there’s a beach
to walk on!

I cut her jeans to shorts,
wishing I could scissor every loss.