Rough Draft

The word, though spelled incorrectly, is mine. I cross it out in my own time and in its space, the brown earth, I will grow flowers, fruit trees, or lettuce. I am a rough draft, cursive drawn on paper with a pen and my left hand rubs over the ink. The blue smears the way water bleeds. My thoughts color the white space with curving lines, see how they keep moving like whiskered catfish. Words move over other words, along the top, a carrot fills in what was left out. I cross out a word that doesn’t sound right and replace it with another – my words have larynx, are string. There are paragraphs I wish I could delete but I don’t and I can’t; rough drafts are made, the way we can’t erase the past. I am adding and simplifying. I come from ancestors who are herbal doctors, how they mix plants and seeds and barks and roots, the way I mix words to create a horrid tasting black liquid that is good for the health. I want to take grammar and break it up and put them together again like lego pieces and build something else, anything else, perhaps a bird. I am a constant participial phrase. The appositive does not define me though it tries to. My hair is too long? Should I cut it? I will proofread. No, I will not cut it. Let the blank spaces cuddle the words and let my hair grow long as the lines from my pen, how they draw and draw lines fine and dark as my hair. I carry a dictionary in my arms. My body is a rough draft; in my blood, the letters float like cells. I need to go for walks, separate these words, let each be round, infused with oxygen. I will never be a final draft. I will never be done, complete in my journal I hide under the bed – it is not meant to be proofread.

teresa_picTeresa Chuc Dowell‘s poems appear in or are forthcoming in journals such as The National Poetry Review, Babel Fruit, EarthSpeak Magazine, The Prose-Poem Project, Rattle, and Verse Daily. Her poetry also appears in the anthology New Poets of the American West (Many Voices Press, 2010). Teresa’s poetry chapbooks are Danaus Plexippus Plexippus (Victorian Violet Press), Cartography of Family (Chippens Press), Cartesian Product (Silkworms Ink), and Truth is Black Rubber (Silkworms Ink). Teresa’s first book of poetry, Red Thread, is forthcoming in fall 2012. She is graduating with a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing (poetry) from Goddard College in Vermont in January 2012. Visit Teresa at

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1 comment for “Rough Draft

  1. Jane
    January 29, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Brava, Theresa!I am so glad to have heard your voice. Your eloquence not only teaches me and stokes my courage but you also speak for me. Thank you. Your sister alum and fan, Jane

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