Enjoy a Little Mischief with 'Poem for a Hidden Passage' by Catherine Pierce

Enjoy a Little Mischief with 'Poem for a Hidden Passage' by Catherine Pierce

Tuesday, 20 September, 2022

Come on, admit it. Haven’t you sometimes imagined an alterna-version of yourself that accepts the side quest or throws the first punch? Tempts fate and opens the creaking door clearly marked DO NOT OPEN? Steals the briefcase, lights the torch, takes the leap?

Here’s a poem that celebrates that very notion.


Poem for the Hidden Passage — Catherine Pierce

  • A fingertip slip, a click, a slow flip:
  • revelation. Back there, the launderers,
  • the smugglers, the thieves with eyes
  • loupe-glassed over rubies and coins,
  • the room firelit or engine-black, the hum
  • of urgent evil. The stories would have us
  • cold-cock a henchman or sound
  • the secret bird-cry to alert the blustering chief.
  • But don’t we hate, a little, the virginal
  • girl detective, the brothers
  • and their moral chums? Don’t we long
  • to launder with the launderers?
  • Antarctica has long been mapped;
  • there are no new topographies
  • to claim. Aren’t we tired
  • of our blueprinted split-levels,
  • our 5 p.m. indigo Januaries?
  • If, while dusting a bookshelf
  • some dreary afternoon, I clicked
  • a switch and found vice buzzing
  • behind the Balzac, I’d step in
  • and stoke the fire. I’d work my way up
  • until I was the one thumbtacking
  • the crudely drawn map, the one
  • barking orders, the one steepling
  • my steady fingers. And when one day
  • the wall turned to reveal a large-eyed
  • do-good girl, I’d stare her down,
  • my fire behind me, until she backed up
  • and out, leaving me again
  • with my coin mountains, my cronies,
  • my little secret kingdom,
  • my little kingdom of secrets.


About Catherine Pierce

Catherine Pierce co-directs the creative writing program at Mississippi State University, where she teaches classes in creative writing and American literature. She’s the author of four books of poems: Danger Days, The Tornado Is the World, and The Girls of Peculiar, each of which won the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Poetry, and Famous Last Words. A two-time Pushcart Prize winner and recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Academy of American Poets, she currently serves as the Poet Laureate of Mississippi.

Top image courtesy of Eugenio Mazzone/Unsplash.

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