- The Window in the Mirror
"They know locks are important," the nurse says when she sees me watching a man, younger than my father, twist the switch of a deadbolt nailed to the wall in the dayroom—one of many locks nailed to the wall. Puzzles that can never be solved. Total fake-outs. A tumbler lock, a sliding door latch, an interior doorknob with its little tongue sticking out…
At the table, a woman, also younger than my father, looms over two big piles of Christmas cards—her face frozen in a silent scream. The nurse explains the woman had been in a car accident, and the part of her brain that managed fear got stuck on ON. Old Christmas cards are the only things that make her feel better.
The woman slowly picks up a card from the left-hand pile, opens it, closes it, then lays it down on the right-hand pile. Her fluid movement reminds me of the Japanese tea ceremony. A flimsy chain tethers her to the chair like a dog no one thinks will run away. [End Page 82]
Jennifer L. Knox's new collection of poems, Crushing It, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in 2020. Her work has appeared four times in The Best American Poetry series, and her nonfiction writing has appeared in The Washington Post and The American Poetry Review. She teaches at Iowa State University and is the proprietor of a small-batch artisanal spice company called Saltlickers.