The Diener

In this collaboration, poet Martha Serpas and artist Michele Burgess share concerns about the intersection of environmental loss and the spiritual care of humans. Martha Serpas is the author of three collections of poetry. This is volume four of Burgess's series, "The Stratigraphic Archives." A native of south Louisiana, she remains involved in efforts to restore Louisiana’s wetlands. Since 2006 she has worked as a trauma hospital chaplain.

Diener is a German word and means servant at its root. It was first used for lab assistants and then specialized to mean the person who runs the morgue, who mostly moves the bodies around, not the pathologist. Roots are servants of the tree in a way. I like it a lot. Serve is rich word, many different connotations.”

—Martha Serpas

“Responding to Martha’s poem, I drew inspiration for my imagery from the exposed roots and carved walls found in the arroyos of the desert Southwest; recent X-rays of my wounded shoulder; illustrations of root cross sections in volume three of Botanical Extracts; or, Philosophy of Botany by Robert John Thornton (1810); the paper created by Gangolf Ulbricht for the restoration of the famous Anna Amalia Library after a fire in 2004.”

—Michele Burgess

Poem by Martha Serpas; hand colored etchings and cast bronze sculpture by Michele Burgess. Text set in Gill Sans and printed letterpress by Nelle Martin on Anna Amalia paper. Etchings printed and colored on Gampi paper by the artist. Bound by the artist with Sonja Jones and Miya Hannan in linen printed with an etching. Walnut slipcase/sculpture stand made by James Renner. Edition of 30. 2011.

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