E. Kristin Anderson: Inside Us Is an Earthquake
And Still He Will Be Remembered as the Believer
(after The X-Files)
Believe in ghosts— the ones that whisper in your ear late at night
in the office the ones that pull at your childhood like a storybook
and a chilling draft. Believe in flying saucers because you’ve seen
the bright lights yourself felt the empty-full feeling of tractor beam
paralysis had time disappear in the middle of the road. Believe
in conspiracy— Cancer Man scowling in the corner filling an ashtray
with ash in a cloud of smoke your informant shot
in cold blood your questions affirmed but unanswered. Believe in
shapeshifting and skin-walking and faith healing and the undead but save
your suspicion for rape. I’ve seen Agent Scully slide photo
after photo of bruised women across your desk. The marks
on their wrists from restraints the pale, cut lip. Their purple thighs.
And I’ve seen you reject the evidence— rape by spirits and invisible entities
is always unsubstantiated. False claims are the weapon of angry girls.
Still you click through these slideshows of crop circles and monsters.
Still you describe this evidence that only you can see
Chase a rumor of a close encounter
a vampire el chupacabra to the ends of the earth but a human woman
is where you’ll draw your line and find a hoax. File the evidence in a drawer.
Believe only in yourself.
Dress it Like a Romance Dress it Like We Drew it Pretty
(after The X-Files)
Pull down the blinds and close the curtains. In that house we let
nothing in. In that house we feign quiet and sunlight has to sneak
by with a winter draft. In black and white this paints a perfect landscape.
Where there’s a legend there’s fire. And Scully, you know the raw
science of genetics so profoundly that it screams in your blood. Tell me
why we make monsters on purpose forgive their trespass
dance with them and decide this is normal. I hear you on the recording
color stripped from your language. I hear Cher on the recording, too
her voice a storm around the song of a creature I’m asked to forgive.
Father and father and son crime after crime as the song plays and
the poison fills the air with white smoke. I know reality when I see it
and I can always hear the lie. Turn off the TV this time. Listen.
I cry because I can. I lie flat on my back remembering in the dark because
I can. I know which songs speak truth and I know how ugly is so easy
to uncover that its presence is almost comical. Scully, there are photos and
we flip through them knowing that even the pictures we took ourselves
are little lies. And we are in the rain again and because I can I collect it
in my hands as the house burns down and I wait for Cher to sing because
I don’t want to hear when the monster explains his own harmlessness
and I pretend that the stars have gone out because Scully the man
you harbor is indeed a man and as cruel as those who robbed you of
your body and your womb. We are not theirs. So how can this story end
with the music surging and science gone and a rush of joy and a dance and
if I keep my eyes shut if I put a Cher record on can I change my own end?
Inside Us Is an Earthquake and a Refuge and a Riot
(after The X-Files)
I walk into the ditch as myself— there are still daises in the grass
if you look close enough. Desires. If you look close enough Mercury
is in retrograde. Actually, the retrograde is there whether you look or not.
Agent Scully warns about the horrors we can imagine in moments after trauma.
But in this cold town it is impossible to quiet the voice of a man who would
drown you out with charm. Remember: Trauma is there whether you look
or not. I know the places where I can see my breath and I am a Sagittarius
with a Leo moon. This is true no matter what you believe about the stars.
I used to read my horoscope in every magazine mark my lucky days on a
calendar. But my magic did not boil over in the school gym. I never dug up
a field looking for something to burn— though under the right circumstances
I can lose my mind or my temper: the stars a well-timed pop song a man
making me roll my eyes so hard I can foresee my own afterlife. Don’t even try
to change the channel tonight. Scully mumbles into her lit cigarette (as if a good
woman is without vice) and I want to tell her she’s right in every other town
but this one on any other day. And she finally erupts and slams the door
and hits the gas. We all feel the perfect alignment the horror of feminine will
somehow backed by the universe at large. I let the grass speak its truth but I
make room for smudged eyeliner and astrologers. I make room just in case of some
bizarre miracle. It’s so dark. It’s fine. It’s whatever Mercury wants for us this winter.
If All I Know Is Howling How Can I Breathe In a Quiet Room?
(after The X-Files)
It’s raining and I’m missing
even without leaving home. I melt into a photo— this is the medium
in which we exist now. I miss the whine of the Polaroid the magic of
watching an image slowly appear even my expired film creating its own
erratic boundary. I have never thought a photo into the film
but I do think often of the practice of lobotomy the women just like me
with so many troubling thoughts that men of a certain generation would
pierce our eye sockets to quiet us.
Scully, you understand unruhe even as you assess the horror of this
CAT scan the blighted places gone forever the unrest of women chased
into the shadows again and again. Scully, you speak the language of fear
because fear is adrenaline is a weapon is yours.
And when you drive away from the dead it is not elegiac there is no
compassion for Death for those who would cast a shadow on our wicked teeth
the animal pull to resist this at every possible turn blurring ourselves
into any sunlight provided.
I imagine, Dana, that you struggle to sleep awake to bear witness to yourself
in case you are ever missing again. And I wonder whether unruhe is a curse at all.
I cannot know any other self cannot reach behind my eyes. And this photo
I’ll keep for myself— a sort of mirror to watch over whatever self survives.
E. Kristin Anderson is a poet, Starbucks connoisseur, and glitter enthusiast living in Austin, Texas. She is the editor of Come as You Are, an anthology of writing on 90s pop culture (Anomalous Press), and Hysteria: Writing the female body (Sable Books, forthcoming). Kristin is the author of nine chapbooks of poetry including A Guide for the Practical Abductee (Red Bird Chapbooks), 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, forthcoming). Kristin is an assistant poetry editor at The Boiler and an editorial assistant at Sugared Water. Once upon a time she worked nights at The New Yorker. Find her online at EKristinAnderson.com and on twitter at @ek_anderson..