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.

rule

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.
 

rule

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.

Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!

keep reading

Would you rather... lean on a bookcase, then feel it swivel you into a previously unknown secret room — or pry open a small hidden door, grab a brass candelabra, and step into a secret passage to who knows where?
What's more seductive than reading the words that follow 'Dear Diary'?! These 16 books cross genres — adventure, classic lit, mystery, horror, and more — and feature a diary or journal that's critical to the plot.
We love this sweet poem that perfectly captures the magic of getting lost in a great book. If you think you don't 'get' poetry, give this one a try.

sharing is caring!

Can you help us? If you like this article, share it your friends!

our mission

Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.

our patreon

Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.

get our newsletter
We'll never share your email with anyone else. Promise.

This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.

no spoilers. ever.

We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.

super-cool reading fun
reading atlas

This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.

get our newsletter
We'll never share your email with anyone else. Promise.
follow us

Content on this site is © 2022 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.