Lock and Key, by Rachel Sherwood
I hardly know where to look
anymore. Places have a
like the smell of my own sheets
or the close air of the kitchen —
fishbones on the drain
left in the ghastly order
of temporal things.
I have been sitting in this bar
for years now
the beer is stale, the wine off-color
the music is always the same,
old, sad songs that get older
no better than endless conversation
night after forgotten night
when all I or you can recall
is the dark, the traffic lights,
the bartender’s comments
about drunk women
in public places.
I would like to go home
finally, down the long streets
north and south crossed with small gold leaves;
I forget just where the hell
anything is. Locked out.
Sometimes scrolling through the Poetry Foundation website can make for an entire morning of delight. Of insight. Of tragedy. This poem’s title caught my eye because when I think of a lock and key, I think of being closed out rather than being housed safely inside… I wonder if such a thought points to similar personality limitations as seeing a glass half empty …
There are some lovely examples of Sherwood’s work on the website, and a bright synopsis of her life and career that, I was sad to learn, ended in a tragic car accident in 1979. She was 25.