Rethinking erasure

Usually when one thinks of erasure it means that something or someone is being diminished, perhaps permanently removed. The connotation is that that erasure is bad.

Today I decided to take a poem from my archive and try the technique of removing words to create a new piece. This is erasure poetry. You can start with any block of text and discard any of the words that don’t resonate/spark joy/fit your mood. I felt I shouldn’t apply that process to the work of someone else without their permission. So below is my offering for today.

The first poem is the reduced version, with the full piece below offered for context and to satisfy your curiosity. I am surprised at how little the meaning has changed. Perhaps I was not brutal enough. Next time I will try to disrupt the narrative rather then distil it. I’d love to know your thoughts, so please leave a comment!

gasp for air 
beyond control  
created an ecosystem  
rhyme rhythm 
nothing to lose 
I look to  
calm waters  
I walk away. 
Photo by Emad Dalwen on

Surviving at Sea 
Waves crash over me 
My mouth fills with salty water
as I gasp for air
Words are trapped between panic and fear. 
My limbs flail, trying to reach for a grip 
or a toe hold that cannot exist. 
I am like an abandoned ragdoll - tossed and turned on a whim 
by forces beyond my control.  

The story of how I got here? 
- a story of mundane interactions, 
misread signs
and compromise. 
All innocuous to the naked eye. 
These moments, insignificant and small, 
Created an ecosystem and the eventual storm. 
Caught in currents and strife 
I battle to survive, breathe, 
escape with my life.  

Slowly I begin to understand the nature of the water 
The rhyme and rhythm of her movements 
In desperation I go with it. 
Conserving energy? 
I have nothing else to lose. 

I time my intakes of air 
I stroke with the waves. 
The tempest eases 
I catch sight of land 
it's welcoming solidity 
I have just enough energy to drag 
myself onto the rocky beach. 
Sharp shells dig into my skin 
I am shivering, exhausted and still terrified. 
I look back to the sea - calm glassy waters shimmer as the sun creates patterns of refracted light 
Small dogs and children 
play at the calm edge. 
Beach towels sprawl casually on soft white sand. 
I stand, and this time, walk away into the embrace of a warm afternoon. 

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