E. Kristin Anderson

Keep Driving South But Closure Is Still a Dirty Beautiful Trick
after the X-Files

Every human body is a museum and in the afternoon          I wait for results—
a blood test         an email something to open and reveal.        Give them
five dollars for a secret room and a secret box.         Open the box and find 

only air         loosed in the dark.           What to say in the face of abject fuckery?      
And freak is a rhythm—          a diagnosis a performance          an autopsy
a dance.         Agent Scully reveals another slight of hand and it is another layer 

of revelation.         I let Dana cut me open         for the whisper tied to my bones—    
I hold a gasp behind my tongue.            Danger is a stranger’s face a secret 
kept in a jar stuck down my throat.          And I wonder— what if Scully had 

swallowed that cricket            song and all? Is there still some feminine shock 
for your smile?          Clutch your trigger finger and float—          here is your freak.
Tonight I wait for my body to fail         and southern heat takes its time to take me

curling into my chest—       we’re sliding not toward the coast but         into the trees     
carrying everything we are on our backs.           In this humidity a mermaid is more 
than a fever dream.         Here is your medicine.   Find my tattoo. Perform

your supposed nature but nature abhors all that is normal.       Leaves us to pull apart 
anomalies.         So imagine going through life as some Adonis       in a suit and tie.          
Close the box.         Doctor Scully knows when to assume      and when to swallow 

and when          to slow my hands       to pull a steel nail out from under my breasts             
out from between my ribs          knows what is twin and what is disaster and what is
murder.        Knows that our selves are our sisters        inside-out and alive.

I Don’t Trust Their Hands Because I Can’t Trust Mine
after The X-Files

Tonight I’m not who I am           in small spaces stripped to the base
of self        asking again what can I find              if I open my own body.
Maybe I am the dog let loose          barking at the walls steel and bare.

I try to find me in cardboard boxes stacked against plywood        this storage 
a distress call on the radio.              In my soft lips is another medical panic     
wild            as isolated as my own soft skin—     I wish your hands were there.

Doctor Scully,      you can never be too sure       you can never know enough
when you’re on the floor        twisting and afraid the cold coming up
                         from the earth.        Hold me down. Hold me here.     

In this trust       disease works with its arm on our backs     parasitic and
alive         pushing us further and further away from the illusion of safety     
locking tight.            That is the deepest cold—       this clouded sheet of ice

that can neither chill nor numb          nor speak an endless landscape
of grief          the body revealing a new secret for the paranoid.        Dana, 
we say we are our own         we belong to ourselves that the doors open

only when we ask them to.                 But there’s no accounting for the sky
how it reaches down to touch my eyes          the ends of the earth up in smoke       
how I leave disease in my shoes       and throw them sharp into the wind             

how the windows break       at extreme temperatures   how the windows 
break       when I whisper and         Dana Scully, you hear me—     honesty 
        is alien             but it’s ours to taste            right there in the blood.

Under the City I Let My Secrets Move Electric
after The X-Files

In the afternoon my hands are full of static and I hear it        try to listen.      
Investigate what I can’t touch.        Under a dark ceiling all there ever was 
is slipping by the windows         and I touch the equivocal eat the apple

watch the animal            and the invisible. What signal should I wait for?
Transit depends on a flicker of color          and I have to ask if I am more 
than a flashlight       if I am more than water.      Scully, this body is like 

some phantom full of salt and calcium           breathing. In this tunnel 
there’s a point at which we can’t turn around            and that was miles ago 
when trust was simple.                Home is an accelerant to send down the line

and the more I sweat the more I carry this trouble.         I can’t ask you, Scully,
to explain it to me            but this is how we are infected:          in isolation
sparking vibrant straight into an idea—       all these things that glow in the dark. 

I luminesce          my own little blood lie—       as if we could bury the barriers 
let concrete and steel corrode alone.         Agent Scully, there is the data and
there is the rising sea inside us—        I’m not sure we can have both anymore.      

I could be dying for all I know      glowing sick and dangerous. And the trains          
are an electric breath       and our bodies are honest     sliding into a wild guess 
that I touch to my skin in the evening        something bright to hold me still.

Where the Tide Meets the Walls I Open My Lungs
after The X-Files

                    Dana, this is the poem I don’t want to write.           Still
it pulls at me when I’m trying to sleep—            that specter of family.
And I’m sorry for your loss.       I cannot bear a single page of Melville
but when he calls you Starbuck             even through the lips of murder

I ache for the father who knew         how to sit at the edge of my bed
when I was awake              mind racing hot   the nightmares
encroaching on my sleep.            By the time I was a teenager I knew
what I was:                   wrong. I prayed not to God but to a star

sticker glowing on my ceiling.     I prayed I would sleep. Like you 
I want to believe.         Watch for the signs.     Turn into the alley.             
Speak to the dead.          And I think that my father might be a ghost.       
Might see my fever                 and know it is real.                     

Dana, this is the one I can’t write.           There is more than one kind 
of death and this kind      does not know empathy.   So I try not to 
fear my own end—       these minutes I’m alive     given not by blood   
but by medicine.      I’d swallow the whole sea to feel that blood again.


E. Kristin Anderson is a poet and glitter enthusiast living mostly at a Starbucks somewhere in Austin, Texas. A Connecticut College alumna with a B.A. in classical studies, Kristin’s work has appeared in many magazines including The Texas Review, The Pinch, Barrelhouse Online, TriQuarterly, and FreezeRay Poetry. She is the editor of Come as You Are, an anthology of writing on 90s pop culture (Anomalous Press) and is the author of nine chapbooks of poetry including Pray Pray Pray: Poems I wrote to Prince in the middle of the night (Porkbelly Press), Fire in the Sky (Grey Book Press), 17 seventeen XVII (Grey Book Press), and Behind, All You’ve Got (Semiperfect Press). Kristin is a poetry reader at Cotton Xenomorph and an editorial assistant at Sugared Water. Once upon a time she worked the night shift at The New Yorker. Find her online at EKristinAnderson.com and on twitter at @ek_anderson.