At Night by Lisa Ciccarello

A Path Through the Long Snow

reviewed by Doe Parker

At Night by Lisa Ciccarello is a fantastic collection put out by Black Ocean in 2015. This book is a blend of perspectives, characters, and feelings that throw the reader deep into thought. These poems beg to be read quickly and in the dark. Her poems are so complex and well-crafted that a reader can be left to ponder even a single stanza.

The speaker fills the book with violent diction, often in such a way that juxtaposes unexpected action and narration. Tidbits like “to break beneath me,” “someone has fooled you,” or “against cry against bite down” wear against the reader through the collection. Though it seems that a direct “conflict” is never brought about in the poems, there is still a panic and urgency throughout that strings the reader along, making it nearly impossible to look away.

The book constructs and reconstructs the night in many different, unexpected ways. Detailing how “the dark has a sound,” how it is “luminous,” and how “the night unlatches everywhere.” In At Night, the night itself is alive. It is an active and prominent character, working entice the reader and twist the plot.

This collection actively attempts to fashion a peaceful home. The speaker seems to try to “cut windows” in the box of the fear woven through the piece. They still talk in a very tender fashion about “our home” and a beautifully detail how “the sky smells like tea.” This tender nostalgia and beauty combined with moments where “someone steps a path through the long snow” create moments of warmth yet tension. While the sky may “smell like tea,” there is still a present fear of what is outside the sanctuary of the house and a present talk of “salting” the snow where those footprints have been made.