By Andrea Sherwood
I lived a year in a small black box
under a barbershop
some nights not even an inch
of moonshine would sit on the windowsill
the room purgatory
with no objects no
thing save the thick dark
screaming three a.m. why aren’t you sleeping
are you still breathing
like you could slip from light (or is it life) and no one tells you
no dark was too loud to keep itself shut
but light this big quiet light it could swallow us whole
it could be wiping its lips right now
Today’s poem was previously published in Issue 14 of Rivet: The Journal of Writing that Risks and is reprinted here today with permission from the poet.
Andrea Sherwood’s work is published or forthcoming in Pennsylvania’s Best Emerging Poets, Lavender Review, and Rivet. Currently, Andrea is pursuing an MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Guest Editor’s Note: Repetition is effective in conveying palpable fear and panic in Sherwood’s piece about loneliness and dread. The light and dark entities in this poem reach out like hands to the throat, alternately choking and releasing air and emotion. The airiness of the lines allows space for feeling and time to process, and line breaks leave breathless openings for more. Form operates successfully to produce an uncomfortable disposition and an opportunity for understanding of the speaker’s secret inner turmoil.
The metaphorical box feels real and turning light into a terrible monster is a remarkable turn at the end of the poem. The trepidation lingers long after the terror has been distilled in the image of “screaming three a.m.” which bends the poem into a new perspective and a dialogue with the dark. Light then becomes a colossal entity more unexpectedly frightening than living in the “thick dark” of a “black box / under a barbershop.” The final image of the light that “could be wiping its lips right now” is an alarm sounding somewhere, maybe even silently, that what is true in the dark is also true in the light and fear knows no difference.
Want to read more by Andrea Sherwood?
Pennsylvania’s Best Emerging Poets
A NOTE FROM THE MANAGING EDITOR:
After nearly ten years as Contributing Editor of this series, it is an honor and a unique opportunity to share this space with a number of guest editors, including the editor featured here today. I am thrilled to usher in an era of new voices in poetry as the Managing Editor of this series.
Viva la poesia!
Sivan, Managing Editor
Saturday Poetry Series, AIOTB