ars poetica with physical therapist

Kara Dorris
Content Warnings
"Last night, a blood moon, a sleepless..."
Dec 28, 2020 9:51 PM

Last night, a blood moon, a sleepless

red ache & I thought once

upon a time, this is what poets wrote for:

heated den to snowy porch, un-tread except

by pawprints & lovers. Except now

I am writing about sitzfleisch, the ability

to sit on one’s ass & persevere in tediousness,

like tap dancing on teacups,

which is not just a metaphor anymore.

Although, when tossed right, those cups slide

across the floor like a waltz.

Sometimes, I am trapped in the sky-blue vined

ceramic bells my mother collected,

how often the bells ended upside down,

but never cracked or filled, like unbroken toes

of pointe shoes. We learned to tape

our toes, tape down the bell ringer tongue

like we tape a knee or shoulder injury.

You’ve said it before—we induce pain to ease it.

Our hands touch a dozen others. Induce & ease

my physical therapist says, face it. I imagine lifelines

in our palms inking the ones in our care. If only

everyone would stretch the tight tendons despite hurt,

condition give & take. Ice & heat.

Ease into full mobility. Instead, we hold

the ache inflamed, tightening tendon

tenderness until shutting down—& out—

is the only reprieve.

Kara Dorris is the author of Have Ruin, Will Travel (Finishing Line Press, 2019). She has also published four chapbooks: Elective Affinities (dancing girl press, 2011), Night Ride Home (Finishing Line Press, 2012), Sonnets from Vada’s Beauty Parlor & Chainsaw Repair (dancing girl press, 2018), and Untitled Film Still Museum (CW Books, 2019). Her poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Gold Wake Live, I-70 Review, Southword, Rising Phoenix, Harpur Palate, Cutbank, Hayden Ferry Review, Tinderbox, Puerto del Sol, The Tulane Review, and Crazyhorse, among others literary journals, as well as the anthology Beauty is a Verb (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011). Her prose has appeared in Wordgathering, Breath and Shadow, Waxwing, and the anthology The Right Way to be Crippled and Naked (Cinco Puntos Press, 2016). She earned a MFA in creative writing from New Mexico State University and a PhD in literature and poetry at the University of North Texas. Currently, she is a visiting assistant professor of English at Illinois College. For more information, please visit