(If viewing this poem on a handheld device, please rotate to landscape mode to provide maximum width for each line.)
This morning in sleep paralysis I hallucinated a home invasion,
felt the weight of a stranger’s body, woke sucking down air.
I’m home and the radiator doesn’t tick all night like pebbles at
the window but I still don’t know what to do. In this state of collapse
I’ll see what floats to the top, whether it’s cream or specter. Even
at the end of the end times there’s an apocalypse ahead and further
off still are all the things coming unmoored in me. I imagine angels
are losing their minds so I can’t say I’ll keep keeping the lights on.
I flip a coin for this entire year and the sun doesn’t care if I haunt
every corner of every room, cordless. Am I really living if I’ve never
lain on the floor in the dark asking God what shadows are shadows
and what shadows are ghosts? This is the hollowed out feeling
that only Texas can fill and I try to be still so that I can be whole,
if bitten by the wind. This year has been so long and when I unpack
my suitcase I throw out the ticket and the sick bag that served as
bookmarks. I put away my winter hat and my medicine. I’ll carry these
days knotted in my shoulders because it turns out there is no dark side
of the moon and if you tell me what to do one more time I’ll strike
a match and run. Tonight I look to myself with prayers and the sun
sets on all our oceans, even when we are hiding from the dark,
all these miles from the Atlantic. It must be drawing near—a home
where I can choose a garden or a grave for my own rest. Where
what the wind and water take is just as much a song as the last breath
in me that hasn’t learned despair. Where the cloying scent of salt is
something to store in my cupboard with lonely spiders. And I’ll close
the cupboard door, my body a long shadow as I dim the kitchen lights.
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 and her work has been widely published in magazines. She is the author of nine chapbooks of poetry including A Guide for the Practical Abductee, Pray, Pray, Pray: Poems I wrote to Prince in the middle of the night, Fire in the Sky, 17 seventeen XVII, and Behind, All You’ve Got (forthcoming). 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.
Lead image: “Switch” (via Flickr user Scott Robinson)