I Cannot Sit Still
(after Jenny Lewis)
I finally fell asleep when the pink came through my blinds
and claimed to be a kindness. A caress that reminds me I don’t know
the woman I was just a few years ago—when I stand in hot water
she washes away. So I don’t know how to tell you to look at this landscape
of wi-fi and blue jeans and concrete and clouds and lucid dreams.
I want to tell you how shit gets real with every footstep we take in Texas grass.
Still the mourning doves sing each other awake. I know how I feel is boring
but maybe if I split myself down the middle you could see grief
moving red beneath my ribs. Some nights I crash soft into the cool
of my floor and when I open my eyes I’ve come undone from my body—
mortality leaves this mark. When I go out I dress in black boots
and black ink and wait for the day this state melts me into the sidewalk—
a sanction on my tongue. From my living room I hear the children
in the courtyard pulling the triggers on toy guns, laughing
at the click click click as if there aren’t bodies still lying cold
on the Walmart floor. This might be magic and it might be rejection
but the fight in me is waning even as it grows hot. I wait barefoot
on my porch for takeout. I write another letter to my senators.
You tell me I should have children soon and I tell you that my magic
rests not in what I can’t bear but in how I can live every day
while holding my breath. When the hourglass cracks open, I scoop up
the sand and throw it over my shoulder like salt. I scrape mold
away from what’s left of a loaf of bread even though I’ve learned
that once you can see it growing on the surface, the mold has tainted it all.
And I’ve learned that I cry when a choir performs the national anthem,
this perfectly executed crescendo, as if there is still hope in a song,
as if there is still blood in my body, as if the grass might stay green
in this climbing heat. When I tell my neighbor I’m okay and I’ll see her later
what I really mean is I don’t know how to exist like this anymore and
when I tell the barista things are good and I’d like a croissant
what I really mean is this is an emergency and I think I’m drowning.
At night I look back, wait for the thunder, wait for the rain to remind me
of what I carry and why I carry it—the cities I’m bonded to, gut to gut—
tomorrow and tomorrow I’ll wake knowing I’m never who I was.
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 and anthologies, 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, forthcoming). 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.