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.