The following poems are an erasure of a journal I kept for two weeks in January and early February of 2014. Later that year, I burned the original journal entries, though kept a file of the erasure "poems" on my computer. In May of 2015, over a year later, I erased every word that did not contain an l, an o, a v, or an e. Later still, I rearranged the words, omitted some, and created 31 fragments to honor the found documents of Sappho's songs. This dismantling of text, language, and longing does nothing to destroy my work, but rather gives it a new shape, new life. It is in constant motion, constant evolution and devolution. Immediately after writing this note, I permanently deleted the file containing the erasure poems.
let rotating love
let love not be
after establishing look, not overcome
the body not severance
so never remain
ruthless , shivering
feels only vertigo
limb toward conquest
the world would conquer,
nevertheless not die
slow country the
sweet coast the
all to time
all to space
glass conclusions, itself ablaze
one solemn little hotel.
the light window feels
April shower near
the "[longing" hotel
to conceal the body, partially thrown
little Letters glow
Sappho inside the
Is a pond, bisected by the barely visible
man in a canoe. Is a mask made by a mute, or used
in some silent theater no one performs anymore.
Is a mirror, which splits to reveal a cupboard,
rusted and my face doubled on itself,
as if I could perform such impossible
pleasantries. I don't want to see it anymore. No
one speaks this language but for those for whom
death is local and bland as bread, sliced
and handed to me as I left the house. Tell
me again: will you arrive by land or sea? I suppose
I do not understand the nature of the place.
is no water here.
Held back, or some desks did not contain me. I dressed
plain the first day, wore black and pulled back my hair.
I did not want to leave the house. It was plenty dark
when I woke up. The door warped at the hinges, shrunk
in winter. The house had been here, matted in ivy before
and will be forever. I wanted to see more of this place,
but found that it was a shoulder rising up out of the void.
How plain it would have been, how pleasant, had we looked into
the mirror and seen nothing. Had we looked into the mouth
of the well and saw only darkness. The glass is darkening
in the Chinese mirror. The wind is shuttering me back
into the bed where I was born. I must leave this place.
If I must, emerge. Place your face
against the screen and push.
Denise Jarrott's work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Volta, Pith, Bat City Review, Gigantic Sequins, La Vague and elsewhere. She lives in Colorado.