The way he asked me to come over makes me think he has waited. I think I saw him looking at me as I approached. He is in his pickup truck. It felt like I was being inconvenienced, forced to walk over and I remember positioning myself in the way I thought him least likely to be able to pull me into the truck. That was, in that moment, in the forefront of my mind. Did he think it was less aggressive to stay in the truck? Or maybe it was not easy for him to get in and out of it. We were in a quieter part of the parking lot. I am not sure if anyone else was there at that moment. He asked where the nearest thrift store was and I, warm and quick and friendly, cited the first one I could think of. He seemed to know it as I described the location. Then why ask at all? Perhaps he had forgotten? Perhaps looking for something closer? It seemed strange—except the tone of his voice and the look on his face. Tired, resigned, neutral. I cannot help but like that face, rust-red to match his old, low pickup. Lined in a way of someone who has seen a lot of sun and harder years. A face that is the type of face I like. Had he been waiting? And now I cannot remember if I did see his red truck on the road, in the opposite direction of where I told him to go, looking at me walk a few streets down to my apartment, or was I just scanning, looking for it, the fear settling in my memory like a sleeping bear, there, but not fully realized?
3 Questions for Natalie
What was your process for creating this work?
Both of these poems are from my own life—which isn't always the case for me. For "In the Dream," I remember most of my wild dreams when I wake up, so that gave me the images, but the phrase "in the dream" specifically kept popping up when I wrote, so that led me here. I mentioned my dreams that were most frequent, alarming, or just sounded nice in the rhythm of the poem. I let the progression of dreams guide me to a bigger realization. For "Somebody is Waiting," that was a straight account from a brief interaction I had right near my home and in turn an account of my memory replaying it. So the layers of memory build. But I didn't change them upon writing them down; the poem exists as a record.
What is the significance of the form/genre you chose for this work?
First and foremost, this was just the format that felt best for these two poems. The line break is a meaningful space to me, and I wasn't going to add any where it didn't feel right. I also feel like the images and feelings of these poems needed to be close, boxed in together in the space of my mind, perhaps, in that discrete square of the prose poem.
What is the significance of this work to you?
For "In the Dream," part of it is honoring the truly fascinating and weird things my brain generates while I sleep. But the issue of corporeality is something that flows through a lot of my poems and I think it's always interesting and good to not take for granted we are corporeal and the effect of our corporeality on our consciousness, waking and asleep. For "Somebody is Waiting," this is a tribute to extreme ambivalence, if that's possible. That being a woman interacting with men comes with moments you know for sure are good or bad, but others are moments about which you profoundly and sometimes unsettlingly feel two conflicting things, or sometimes can't remember where imagination ends and reality begins. Sometimes I shy away from this ambivalence because it can be misconstrued and weaponized, but it is a great starting place for poetry.
Natalie Korman is a poet, writer, and the author of the microchapbook Heliotropics (dancing girl press, 2017). Her poetry has recently appeared in Sublunary Review, Channel, River River, Recenter Press Poetry Journal, and Vagabond City. An alumna of Barnard College, Natalie lives in California where she enjoys contemplating the poetics of the banana slug.