They Do Not Like Me in These Parts – 2019 Your Exile Contest Winner

by Rebecca Bridge —

red emergency response vehicle with sirens on in timelapsed photograph

Photo credit: camilo jimenez on Unsplash


They do not like me and they say so, they say, Rebecca, you are not well liked in these parts. They say I am loud and I am. I am an emergency vehicle. It is required that I be loud. I have a siren. It is required that I transport people during some of their very bad moments and, because I am required to rush when I do this, I must be loud and I must siren at people. They do not like this. They do not like a lot of things and yet they do like a lot of things. I and my siren and my rushing and my loud loud are among the things that they do not like. 

Do not be an emergency vehicle, Rebecca, because you do not have any other parts other than these parts in which to be, I tell myself. Do not be loud and rush and do not siren at the people, I tell myself. I paint myself brightly with warnings which also they do not like. The people in these parts find it unseemly. They say I am showing off. So I tell myself, do not be an emergency vehicle and paint yourself and do not be so unseemly.

I cannot help myself, because I am just an emergency vehicle. I used to even like that I was an emergency vehicle. I liked it until just when I found out that I was not well liked in these parts. Because they are required, it is difficult to know what I can do about these things. What I could do is tell the people that I am something that they like. I am something that you like, I could say. I am not an emergency vehicle and I do not have a siren, I could say. I am a barnacled old boat full of exiles adrift, adrift and what you hear is but the sweet song of a sea siren. The people in these parts seem to be keen on that sort of thing.

Rebecca Bridge is the author of A Month’s Worth of Instructional Poems and Clear out the Static in Your Attic: A Writer’s Guide to Turning Artifacts into Art. She has received awards and fellowships including The Donald Justice Poetry Prize, Iowa Lakeside Fellowship, ½ K Prize, Eileen Lannan Poetry Prize, V Press LC Poetry Prize, Dorothy Sargaent Rosenberg Poetry prize among many others. Her work has been published widely including in Conjunctions, Boston Review, Eye Flash Poetry, Sixth Finch, and Columbia Poetry Review. She is a professor, writer, mother, and jewelry smith living in Seattle.