Poem by Lynnell Major Edwards
After Darkness at Noon
--The cell door slammed behind Rubashov.
Interrogation lights and grim weather;
the sun when it does
shine throbs pale
and late above the prison yard
and the defectors, shuffling
mules around the millstone.
Cigarettes are in short supply,
and your tooth aches.
Six and a half steps across
and back the span
of your black-tiled cell. The barred window
a blessing; a scrap of paper,
nub of charcoal appears twice
a week and you consider
a new thesis. Citizen:
this is a mistake. You begin to think
your self a singularity,
your self , a self with unique
purpose and resistance.
In the hall at night, foot drag
of the damned, and the herald
of hands drumming against
steel doors, eyes pressed
against the peep-holes, the sentence
ends when the dull thud of History
punctuates the base of the brain.
Citizen: the record shows
oppositional activity, conversation
with known agitators, deviance
from Party assignment and a brandy
toast lifted in a firelit study. Citizen:
here are the letters from
your student, here the ticket stub, the flyer,
the confession. Citizen:
What say you?
To the ode tapped on a metal pipe
with the rim of your spectacles, thin
rhythm insistent as a bird pecking
at a nerve, we have instructed no reply:
Comrade, are you there?
Friend, what news?
Lynnell Major Edwards’ most recent work is the chapbook Kings of the Rock and Roll Hot Shop (Accents, 2014). She is also the author of three collections of poetry, most recently Covet (October, 2011), and also The Farmer’s Daughter (2003) and The Highwayman’s Wife (2007), all from Red Hen Press. Her short fiction and book reviews have appeared most recently in Connecticut Review, American Book Review, Pleiades, New Madrid, and others. She is Associate Professor of English at Spalding University and also teaches creative writing at the Carnegie Center for Literacy.