E. Kristin Anderson
Narrow and Fine
After Jenny Owen Youngs
This is the terrible beauty of the body: Even the pain
is extraordinary, my diagnostic mystery someone else’s romance.
Memory floats in me. Still, the ride I’m on is bogus as a kiss.
What I’ve seen is mostly from the shore, rooted in grass
and gravel because I know how to be careful, how to be sweet—
but the boats are different here—so small. The bridges
don’t crack open to threaten a swallowing. When blue
scrapes at the horizon my bathroom has already become
an eyelash graveyard. I don’t even wish anymore—just discard
the damp cloth black with mascara. Five years from now
I’ll still be climbing out of my sour skin, digging through
the best of me for the pine splintering my pelvis. I tried to forget
where I come from but like the sea it drags me under, catches
in me the loneliness of being childless. In autumn I drown
flies in soap and vinegar—so many little deaths in this house.
I lose my books under the bed, discover a new bruise on my arm.
If I swallow my tongue it’s just to try and taste the mirror again.
Joints crack like porcelain. My waking dream holds one hand
in the sea and this is how I am licked clean even as my shoulders
point at the sky freckled and sore. I’m left to memorize dates:
doctors appointments, the fall of the U.S.S.R., a dozen deadlines.
I forget our conversations, my prescriptions, whether I need
butter or cheese or detergent. Five years from now I will be only
all the wrong memories, the waves coming hand over fist,
the snake twisted in my spine, speechless at the pharmacy.
And this thing I taste as abrasive as salt. I wonder if I spit it
into the river, whether I can finally be clean of the dishes
I broke at seventeen, another tiny death to plant in the ground.
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 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), 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 the night shift at The New Yorker. Find her online at ekristinanderson.com and on Twitter at @ek_anderson.