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Debra Nystrom’s poem “A Knock” utilizes conversation within the poem to create a sense of comfort in a time of disarray. The poem begins from the speaker with a few added italicized lines working in conjunction with the rest of the poem as a second voice. In the poem, Nystrom has portrayed the idea of disarray through the use of enjambment, “Vinnie Two Crow from the trailer at the school crossroads/has walked up through the snow, bringing a loaf/of pumpkin bread,” as well as the use of narrative to create the muddled attitude of the poem.

Throughout the poem, there is a confusion of the ultimate purpose. I will argue that Nystrom is speaking directly about a fire that has occurred. She writes “You up here had too much trouble,” which is where there may arise some confusion of what the poet is directly referring to in her poem, “A Knock”. I will argue this over other interpretations from her use of the dichotomy of bad and good smoke that appears in the second half of the poem.  When considering the context of the bad and good smoke, as well as, “charred toys quilt” and the native connotations associated with sage, arguably, the poem is speaking narratively about a fire that has occurred. This was created through the use of connotation with sage, the diction choice of charred, and the dichotomy of good and bad smoke.

As Nystrom utilizes the second voice in this poem, there is a sense that the disarray that has been established by the narrative of the poem has depicted clearly the muddled emotional state of the speaker. Without the confusion or aid of the second voice, the poem would have had less of an emotional purpose to the reader, and more so a matter-of-fact tone created through the narrative. The second voice allows the reader an understanding of narrative, purpose, and weakness of the context.


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