Louisa Schnaithmann

$80,000, The Panic Room: Louisa Schnaithmann


Plates rimmed
with gold, wide

moons for our
food. Too-white

napkins, folded
in fleurs-de-lis. A lush

centerpiece of flowers,
an effusive fountain.

The champagne gown
with winding floral

lace, too modest.
Bridesmaids like inverted

teacups, shimmering,
heels with touches

of glitter. All this,
for a single day, and me

sitting at my table,
afraid to touch

the silverware.


The Panic Room

There was a piano.
I remember that.
With figurines, bags
of holiday decorations,
a sewing machine,
tattered clothes, and lots
and lots of dust.

I never questioned
the name of the room.
It was the size of
a nursery. It had blank
beige walls that spoke
of nothing, only echoing
the cluttered calamity
of the space.

Didn’t everyone’s
grandmother have
a room like this?
When I was a child,
I thought so. Everyone
must have.

She wouldn’t say
much about the room
when she was alive, only
laugh at it. I don’t know
if she feared it, or ignored
it, or just thought it was
funny, like an inside joke.

I’ve dreamt it empty before.
And in those dreams, I wander
into the bareness of the place,
resurrect everything, then leave.

Louisa Schnaithmann is a poet living in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in E-Verse Radio, Rogue Agent, and Voicemail Poems, among others, and is forthcoming in Gargoyle. She is the Consulting Editor for ONE ART: a journal of poetry.