Rereleased after 10 years with a new preface, Jillian Weise’s poetry book The Amputee’s Guide to Sex is thrilling and intimate. What is making love like without two legs? How do ableistic hesitations get in the way of intimacy? A part of me feels voyeuristic for enjoying the book, yet, on the other hand, I suppose it is better to be interested for less than perfectly altruistic reasons than to ignore the book. One of my personal reasons for picking up the book involve my disabled sister (who has since passed away) who I wanted to understand more deeply.
In one poem, the speaker “dreams” of the Mona Lisa in a wheelchair, but the painted woman still has that same enigmatic smile. That is the charm of the personas in this book, dashing yet dangerously honest.
In her foreword, Weise shares about the experience of having panels on disability writing be rejected, and from what I’ve read of this book, the conference organizers should be kicking themselves. Here are a few of my favorite lines:
“Below water, I kick one and a half / legs, pretend to be a mermaid.”
“Perfection would be / knowing how to climb a staircase, without / the clank of metal.”
“Your favorite post-coital pastime / is nicknaming my scars. / The name for the railroad track / along my back – Engine.”