Mary Ruefle believes each poem contains another, smaller poem. She explains:
Well, plenty of people would say that within each poem lies a larger, longer, more ambitious poem! But that's not the way I look at things. Years of making erasures has led me to another view. One thing erasure work has taught me is that no matter how much you hone something down, you can't lose the essence of what was there in the ﬁrst place. A metaphor I might use to talk about this is the metaphor of a day; within each day are hours, smaller units of time, and every day has some special hour that seems to be a distillation of the day. One hour which can be viewed as representative of the day. The relationship between these two is that of the part to the whole, and in all things we have no way of ever really knowing the Whole, but we can know a part of it, and that part has to suffice. I am deﬁnitely now talking about the universe and individual lives within it, and also of the sense that every poem is just a part of something, call it a life, the poem is just one little stone, no one can see the conﬁguration all the stones make together, but on any given day, one stone will have to suffice. For the Whole. Oh, I am talking about fractals! I promised myself I wouldn't do that! But when you think of it, in terms of fractals, those who think that within each poem lies a larger, longer, more ambitious poem, are right—the part and the Whole in the end are the same. But I am one who is inclined to chip away. You know what I love? I love haiku. It is impossible to ﬁnd within them another, smaller poem. But in every novel there is a short story, and in every story a poem, and in every poem a haiku. And in every haiku there is a moment that stands for all of time.