April 29, 2020

REVISIONS MASTERCLASS: SARAH VENART, EPIPHANY


This is the fourth and last in a Poetry Month feature series with Sarah Venart, who walks us through the revisions history of some of the poems from her forthcoming book, I Am the Big Heart (Brick 2020). Comments and questions are welcome. What do you see changing as the poem develops?

Sarah Venart
EPIPHANY

Here I am, with one hour to find it.
Here I am in this tenth month, the peeler of pears, 
the slicer of hotdogs, cutting them into strips 
smaller than a child’s windpipe. 
Here’s my apologetic smile, accepted by the daycare 
in return for my children. So what is there to find 
in one hour on my desk’s shallow surface? 
I’ve mislaid all of it somewhere among 
my mind’s tiny grey flags, in the millions of scraps 
piling up. I left it behind in the dark bleeding gums 
of the dog that I loved, watching her clench yet another rock 
from the tide. That was twelve years ago. 
What was she looking for? 
What if she’d stopped looking?
Metaphors were easy then, not only the sky,
but migrating everywhere. And now everyone is arrow
arrow, arrows. Everyone harpoons. 
And I am the big heart, aren’t I?
When my black dog was being put down, in her last 
second I whispered, Squirrel. 


REVISION HISTORY


Creation: Winter 2014
The Tenth Month an unlikely location (Later became EPIPHANY)

for epiphany, or in the morning, 
or in the afternoon.  The mind full of 
tiny grey flags, millions quietly pile 
up.  Or the black bleeding gums of the dog 
again retrieving her dark rocks from the 
tides. What if I stopped looking up? Meta-

phor not only the sky, but migrating 
everywhere. And everyone is arrow, 
arrow, arrows. Everyone harpoons.  And 

I was the big heart, wasn’t I? When the 
dog was being put down. In her last 
second, I whispered, Squirrel. 


Revision for submission, Spring 2018

Epiphany

The tenth month an unlikely location
for it, or this morning or this afternoon when
you are a mother who used to be a poet.
You sit at the desk and have one hour to find it.
It’s here somewhere in the mind’s tiny grey flags
in the millions of scraps piling up.
Or maybe you left it in the dark bleeding gums
of the dog you love, watching her clench another
rock from the tide twelve years ago. What was she
looking for? What if she stopped looking?
Metaphors were easy then, not only the sky,
but migrating everywhere. And now everyone is arrow
arrow, arrows. Everyone harpoons. And
I am the big heart, aren’t I?
When the black dog is being put down, in her last
second I whisper, Squirrel. 


Revision May 2019
Epiphany

You have one hour to find it.
You’ve peeled and cut the pears, the leash already clipped on and trailing 
behind the dog as she turns to thump down at your feet to wait.
You’ve even prepared the apologetic smile the daycare accepts 
when you stand in their doorway.
You sit at the desk and have an hour to find it,
one hour in this tenth month, an unlikely location,
when you are a mother who used to be a poet.
It’s here somewhere in the mind’s assortment 
of grey flags, in the millions of scraps piling up. Or maybe you left it 
in the dark bleeding gums of the dog you love, watching her clench yet another rock 
from the tide twelve years ago. What was she
looking for? What if she stopped looking?
Metaphors were easier then, not only the sky,
but migrating everywhere. And now everyone is arrow
arrow, arrows. Everyone harpoons. And
I am the big heart, aren’t I?
When the black dog is being put down, in her last
second you whisper, Squirrel. 


Revision June 2019
Epiphany

You have one hour to find it.
You’ve peeled and cut the pears, the leash already clipped on and trailing 
behind the dog as she turns to thump down at your feet to wait.
You’ve even prepared the apologetic smile the daycare accepts 
when you stand in their doorway.
You sit at the desk and have an hour to find it,
one hour in this tenth month, an unlikely location,
when you are a mother who used to be a poet.
It’s here somewhere in the mind’s assortment 
of grey flags, in the millions of scraps piling up. Or maybe you left it 
in the dark bleeding gums of the dog you love, watching her clench yet another rock 
from the tide twelve years ago. What was she
looking for? What if she stopped looking?
Metaphors were easier then, not only the sky,
but migrating everywhere. And now everyone is arrow
arrow, arrows. Everyone harpoons. And
I am the big heart, aren’t I?
When the black dog is being put down, in her last
second you whisper, Squirrel. 


Revision July 2019 
Epiphany

Here I am, with one hour to find it.
Here I am in this tenth month, the peeler of pears, 
the slicer of hotdogs, cutting them into strips 
smaller than a child’s windpipe. 
Here’s my apologetic smile the daycare accepts 
in return for my children. So what is there to find 
in one hour on my desk’s shallow surface? 
I’ve mislaid all of it
somewhere in my mind’s tiny grey flags, 
in the millions of scraps piling up. 
I left it behind in the dark bleeding gums 
of the dog that I loved, watching her clench yet another rock 
from the tide. That was twelve years ago. 
What was she looking for? 
What if she’d stopped looking?
Metaphors were easy then, not only the sky,
but migrating everywhere. And now everyone is arrow
arrow, arrows. Everyone harpoons. 
And I am the big heart, aren’t I?
When my black dog was being put down, in her last 
second I whispered, Squirrel. 

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