I learned young that the ocean takes what it has to,
the tide pulling sand from under my toes, that tight grip
just like the heavy sleep of my adolescent depression.
And year after year we’ve come to find all our 8-bit dreams
exploding in VR like natural disasters and no amount
of light staves off this frightening truth. I’ve lived my whole life
tethered to whispers, the anxiety of 1998 still filling me
with hunger. I fill my mouth with fruit, stain my fingers scarlet,
stand in the shower and tell myself I’m suffocating
in the heat. A safety pin is a closure but it also draws blood
and when I remember the bright skirts of my youth
I also remember how I revealed the volcano glowing just
beneath my skin, the serotonin raining around me like
all this beautiful ash. I’m teaching myself to turn off the news
when I can’t breathe. I guess fear burns calories and
I fill my mouth with salt. I lean against walls so I’ll always know
who isn’t behind me and here I cradle an early memory
of bright red blood splashing down my arm at the doctor’s office.
My cat moves the blinds and the soft afternoon fills
the room with light. Yes, the grass grows even on the days we don’t
go outside. I also breathe on the days nobody sees me,
painting my lips brighter than death. I hold every year inside me
even as the medicine fills my memory with gaps. I never
even dreamed of a world where I’d turn sideways, where I would
always carry the volcano, scarlet through my hair and in
my belly. In this timeline I carry a device that can connect me
to the entire world and I’ve used it to disconnect from you,
to map a line straight through my body, spitting sand into the dark.
E. 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), We’re Doing Witchcraft (Porkbelly Press) and Behind, All You’ve Got (Semiperfect Press). Kristin is a poetry reader at Cotton Xenomorph and an editorial assistant at Porkbelly Press. Once upon a time she worked nights at The New Yorker. Find her online at EKristinAnderson.com and on Twitter at @ek_anderson.