(after The X-Files)
Imagine being electric. Imagine
being so electric that you can make the soil beneath your feet
burn into glass. And still you are invisible. Dana Scully
while not electric can start or stop a human heart. Knows
the only possible scientific conclusion is not ever only even
as men taller shout over her head. Lightning crackles
in the hot air around us and we’re keeping score. Behold
the cloudless sky. Behold the teenage failures plotting
from the water tower drinking down entitlement like beer just
as smug as every local cop arriving to assure Scully she can’t
understand. So “Hey Man, Nice Shot” spills itself into evening
and another woman is missing and the cows lay dead and I
note nothing unusual. I note the fear and the death and the
compliance in the face of rage. In a town that produces
lighting a lightning boy is nothing. And Dana Scully
can pull a heart charred and black from a human man. Here is
the vacancy we cannot fill— the way a woman can burn red
and hot right in front of you and you say nothing unusual
was detected. I spit death at you— all you become is wet.
It was already raining. Search my chest but I am electric—
a residual heartbeat. You: just a shout. Nice shot, man.
(after The X-Files)
I don’t think you can close your eyes to it— it’s just another breath
like all the breaths before it even if it stops a cycle. There are three photos
of me from that December in the hospital. Thin thinner the air
around me anything but real. Even through the eye of a camera
I was dying. Even as my life was saved. Stabilized. Transformed.
I craved the dirt and the asphalt and the petrichor. And because I could not stop
for death I ached. Dana, we’ve both been that pale girl vomiting
into a nurse’s plastic basin the medicine poison making us sicker than the sick.
Still. Through tears we breathed. Let the machines work. Years later
in the dark we find ourselves lingering touching the rough bark of the oak
blinking when the camera flashes against night believing in stranger things.
And when you find this photographer of death when you follow him into his
blank apartment flip through images of the dead I know, Dana, that you
are imagining your own end as I imagine mine wondering what violence will take you—
a cancer a failure a murder. And I know (even though you’ll never admit it)
that like me you cannot imagine your future cannot see your body aging
and we assume our lives are as fleeting as a kiss as fleeting as a fever in this bed
bright as a flashbulb popping against a black backdrop a bullet entering a body
and always the black and white of hypochondria challenging us in the fog
of it all to look/not look to spend the night awake just wondering how we lived.
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 and anthologies, including The Texas Review, The Pinch, Barrelhouse Online, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, 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), and Behind, All You’ve Got (Semiperfect Press, forthcoming). Kristin is an assistant poetry editor at The Boiler and an editorial assistant at Sugared Water. 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.