THE LIVING MUSEUM by Jen Knox • Cleaver Magazine
THE LIVING MUSEUM by Jen Knox I am on the bus with a cloth grocery bag and my notebook, trying to depersonalize my urge to speak to the man next to me. He is over six feet with no ring, and he already looked my way a few times. Now, mouth open and eyes fixed, he watches the reddening sky with everyone else, while I watch him. I long to be a part of the sky. The little girl across the aisle points to the window when I look her way, but I just nod and write. My urges are part of a condition, not a part of me. They will pass. Meanwhile, the impending storm is bathing everyone in soft, flattering light. My goal is to avoid triggers until I become stronger, but this requires meticulous planning—more planning than I thought given the bus schedules and a rather inconvenient mistake I made some months back. The problem is numbers. Well, that and proximity. I slept with Jack, who is my neighbor, who has sticky eyes and lifts his eyebrows often when he speaks to me, as though always genuinely interested in everything. Jack is a waiter with odd shifts. I knew he would be a problem when he moved in, but I successfully resisted his extended company until he invited me to an open mic night on a particularly lonely Tuesday evening. It is never the good poetry that gets me. Good poetry is a brief release from body and mind, but good poetry is rare. Besides, there’s something about bad poetry—I think it’s the intensity in which the material is delivered, the naïve beauty translated, the human desire to be heard, to be seen, even if a voice is swathed in cliché and melancholy.