Be Kind, Revise…or the Importance of an Imaginary Knife

You rewrite your poem, perhaps because you are forced to; or maybe you feel it just doesn’t sound right. But there is always something that can be changed, a “the” that can be removed for the sake of punch. So the poetry below was the product of both a class assignment and a forced rewrite. A Sleepwalk required specific elements, such as a utilization of the five senses and a line in a language not your own. Deep-Sea Denial is, of course, the chopped version, cut and sliced with the hopes I’d bared a little bit of me by shedding the unnecessary skin of wordiness, of too much. I hope you enjoy both of them.    
A Sleepwalk, written January 25, 2007
by Alexa L.
The blue glow, it guided me forward— 
a lighthouse glow that let me wake 
beyond the waves of carpet, 
and my feet were sinking. 
My feet were afraid 
of the carved notches in the floorboards— 
diamonds that would never shine— 
the rough sandpaper couch beneath my fingertips, 
and the absence of sheets rustling in my grandma’s bed. 
I heard the clock tick and thought of the blue light 
and how the Atlantic seemed so small now. 
But my feet were brave, 
not freaked out by the shadows beneath 
because if you curl your toes, you fall in. 
The cool water of forget is like drowning. 
The smell of grandma’s baked apples and cinnamon falls down, 
down. 
Grandma’s heart as my head lay on her chest beats— 
down 
The smell of detergent, my nose sinks in to a newly washed cotton shirt— 
down 
into the depths of cream-colored fabric. 
“I’m so proud of you,” she whispers. 
But the phone rings and my grandma moves along the corridor— 
floating. 
My left hand grasps the wall, nails scratching at paint 
that looks gray, but I know it’s white 
as it scratches back. 
And I know I will be scarred by it 
and Sweetheart didn’t want to hurt. 
She wanted flotsam dreams— 
jetsam-soaked ambition. 
I am filled with driftwood from broken ships 
Les bateaux se sont cassés. 
The phone cries out “save the captain.” 
But I am sinking— 
sinking 
down. 
Now on to the revision:
Deep-Sea Denial, written April 18, 2007 
by Alexa L. 
I was not dreaming. 
I was not 
sinking into the waves of carpet 
of my grandmother’s house, 
into the old, graying threads 
that tied my feet 
like seaweed. 
The ocean 
seemed so small now 
against the scent of baked apples, 
the touch of sandpaper couches, and when my feet, 
like hesitant fishermen, 
hooked into the carved floorboards, 
reeling themselves into 
forever. 
I was not forgetting. 
I was not 
swimming in a sea of flotsam 
and jetsam memories 
of a house 
where I learned to appreciate 
breathing, 
where beauty rested 
in a bed with blue sheets and 
a flower-printed comforter. 
I was not 
forgetting. 
I was not 
dreaming. 
I was not.

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