Kristin E. Anderson
(after Grace Potter and Nocturnals)
When I couldn’t get warm I realized that a spark in the night
could be both a sacrifice and a celebration. Today depression lifts
like a hammer and I scramble to take out the trash, to do
the dishes, to gather little hopes from the sky before the weight
of breathing comes back down with a crack. Whatever happens
between now and getting my shit together, it’s a sparkle to
rest my wrists in—it’s night after night of holding love in my
throat like a tiny light and this is how I’ll steady my temperature.
When I’m afraid I spit out death and when I pull my brother’s
knives from the soft muscle of my back I know I’ve taken
one for the team, that I’ve been holding on tight to the trees
for so long that these hands are too stiff to let go. This year I saw
everything we set in stone fall open and inside is just putty
and straw, putrid with the kind of mold that stops us breathing.
And maybe all these years you thought I was a whisper but all these
whispers at once must be loud enough to crack the foundation.
When I tell you what I need you have to understand how long
I’ve held these words under my tongue, how many years
I’ve had to consider so many ways to survive. If I dance I can
let my hips hurt for a moment of joy and still I feel the guilt of this,
how twenty years down the line a parade of children running from
a school hands up and sobbing looks the same on the news:
alien. What comes now has to be more than a shadow, more than
the moon shining on my arms—we are small and ugly and
made of flesh and when we turn the lights on after a nightmare
the worst parts of ourselves are already in the room, waiting.
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 EKristinAnderson.com and on Twitter at @ek_anderson.