The Art of Revision

By | 15 September 2022

She crouches on the shelf, cramped, where she hid the blanket that hid her.

Spots of brown-red blood, bold on the blanket that hid her.

Her fresh skin brushstrokes against that blanket that hid her.

She charts the X’s on her left thigh, one cut for each failure
to snuff beneath the blanket that bid her live.

(She is sorry her gripped words chipped into every held hand;
nothing could have rid her of that then.)

In another version, not X’s
but goat-willows with fuzzy buds
like ones that grew near the field
where it happened; she loved
to brush the fur against her face
all over it felt like love.
She cut love
into her anxious thigh
so it could carry her. Now,
her forefinger traces
the vines the way a mother
traces her baby’s jawline. She lingers
on the buds,
remembering soft,
re-membering soft.

She segments the blanket-that-bid-for-her into palm-sized pieces,
calligraphies one letter onto each piece as many times through the alphabet
until each piece has a name. Arranges the pieces into a poem
no one will ever read: a narrative poem with a speaker, unspeakable.

She gently pricks her left forefinger, anoints each piece, like the Passover ritual,
how the finger dips into wine, dabs the wine onto a plate once for each plague
until her people were set free. Like the ritual over Sabbath candles, she circles
her open hands three times over the words, gathers the air above them, draws her palms
to her face, closes her eyes, and sings:

blessed are you, O Lord our God; bless this one who is still, here

With an Amen, she jumbles the shards, sews them to form
a skirt, letters facing outward. Wears it to remind herself a sparrow’s song is always
the same— and isn’t.

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