Jennifer L. Knox
Waiting on the Ambulance
This music feels like a paper cut the size of my face, on my face.
Normally, I find the song very relaxing—there’s only two notes,
and the singer’s talking about a cowboy. The way it just kind of
rocks back and forth like a teeter-totter. I was going to say
something about fat people on the teeter-totter but then I thought,
“You could stand to lose a pound or two yourself, kiddo.” So it’s
just a teeter-totter with nobody on it. This kind of questioning—
fretting over the feelings of imaginary fat people—may very well
be what’s making me tired. I’ve had a long day, I think.
Did you ever see that Twilight Zone where a woman
named Barbara walks into a department store and she’s really a
mannequin on shore leave living as a real person for one month
but she forgets who she is? The other mannequins are waiting for
her to return so they can take a turn being real. When the mannequin
manager reminds her who she is, Barbara is not mad at all. “Oh,
of course. I remember now. I’m not real.” And she apologizes for
making them wait. I thought that showed a lot of class on her part.
I feel I’m waiting on a message like that: someone’s about to tell me
something and everything will fall into place, make a heck of a lot
more sense. This is a lovely home you have here. I have a what?
Where? On my face? Here? Here? Here? Here? Here?
Jennifer L. Knox is the author of four poetry collections, all from Bloof Books: Days of Shame and Failure (2015), The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway (2010), Drunk by Noon (2007) and A Gringo Like Me (2007). Her poems have appeared four times in the Best American Poetry series as well as in the anthologies Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present (Scribner, 2003) and The Best American Erotic Poems: From 1800 to the Present (Scribner, 2008), both edited by David Lehman. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, American Poetry Review, McSweeney’s, and Bomb, among other journals. Born in Lancaster, California, she currently lives in Ames, Iowa and teaches at Iowa State University.
This poem appears Days of Shame and Failure and originally appeared in West Wind Review.