Cityscape, City Change

Kristin E. Anderson

            (after Tegan and Sarah)

Today I can barely lift the trash to walk it downstairs,
but I carry it all the way to the dumpster. My feet won’t

touch the concrete, not really. Maybe it seems untrue but
I see us and we are all unmoored. You tell me to move

but I can’t lean on physics when what I need is magic so
if all is well, I must have woken in the alternate timeline.

I haul my trash again and again too tired to know how
I got here. Hell is growing too accustomed to pain to even

know it’s there and I feel it and I wonder—what can a girl
make with bee stings? This year planes are already falling

out of the sky and I walk home alone, day or night because
nowhere is safe. This place is unspooling and I gather what

loose ends I can, tie them to my wrist, try to hold flowers
where my country would have me hold blood. Here I hire

myself as cartographer, start erasing all the lines that aren’t
rivers, slide into water that would define us. Hell is a fear

so innate it becomes both cure and prayer. And you feel it,
too, the crisis kicking down heavy, long-forgotten doors,

big and bad. Leaving is our own myth. There’s no moving
downstairs or across the street. I’ll be loitering on the corner

of this congressional district forever, sour and wind-bitten.
When I bid goodnight to the small goblins of the bedroom

I taste the dark, turn the lights back on, check the locks on
the front door, hate my womanness in this moment. When

I get up tomorrow I will still be here fighting an overused
excuse for massacre. Hell is this same despair over and over,

tendrils winding up our legs, touching our mouths to tighten
our jaws. My cat moves away from the cold of the window—

pressed against the glass, ready to shed my skin in case our
world is different when the sun comes up to set us aflame.

I know I don’t have time to be afraid, not in any city, in any
neighborhood. Still, it’s four a.m. and I’m wide awake, hand


anderson, e. kristin headshot

Kristin Anderson is a poet and glitter enthusiast living mostly at a Starbucks somewhere in Austin, Texas. She is the editor of Come as You Are, an anthology of writing on 90s pop culture (Anomalous Press), and her work appeared in many magazines. She 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 nights at The New Yorker. Find her online at and on Twitter at @ek_anderson.

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