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E. Kristin Anderson

Any Return Following My Breath Is a Mouthful of Departure
(after The X-Files)

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Floating.                 It could be anytime—              this wildness that swallows the self
in the fog of panic.       Only blood pressure speaks to me deep          in a memory
and fear blocks both DNA and reverie         like a curtain.        In my illness a nurse
came at night and held my hand and while I cried         she prayed for me          and

everything was white:        her sweater       my blankets        the bright light coming in
from the hall.        Like you I find the threads of my narrative pulled loose         a hand
from every direction       when there was only vomiting     and Valium     and fever dreams.
I know you have fallen out of your body      and fallen back      but the truth of the spirit

is not this thing that left a scar on my neck.        I’m not sure if that even matters.
In the hospital what is a daughter?            At my window:            rain and concrete.
In this room still:      the ghost of my father.          Before you know it         it’s over.
I don’t recognize the woman who would cradle the snake         but I am here and

I am her          and I am enraged and         I can finally get warm again        and, Dana,
I hope you are warm too.        Follow the voices         always back to land       hold onto
that guilt of taking a living thing bloody into your hands       that guilt that allows you
to be a living thing        to still be living.                Letting go is how we are blessed—

the rope tied to the dock        the lake bright and cold        my blood still inside of me—
Dana Scully,          please wake up            so I can ask you how to find normal after this
bizarre displacement         these hands all around me demanding praise        for how
I managed to save me from myself           my medical records as worthless as a promise.

The Magnetism of Every Year Swallowed Into the Woods
(after The X-Files)

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In 1999 I was infinite—             an electric streak down the hallway         and to think
that maze of aluminum lockers        once contained me.         I touched the wall
and felt the energy of every minute wasted          being good.               And in 1999

I rode endless hours like a ribbon of pavement      ending only in the dusky unease        
of my own body.                 I bit into trees as if they were permanent.        With my teeth
I performed blooming.       I fished myself from the window        like a ghost girl        

unchanging and wondering at any god           because how even is a minute meant to occur?      
I tried to accelerate anger into malaise.        Even good girls go to the hospital.       We are all
made of light and meat           and breath.        If there is still a bad seed in me I would like

to let it sprout.     Scully,  the human body can’t move that way     can’t throw itself
wild past reality and stay there forever.        Still.        An autopsy might reveal that there is
no such thing as bad kids.       That there is only a timeline in which we all waste ourselves

in riding the momentum of our mistakes. Let them linger into stories.    Let injuries show
only in your X-Rays held up against a light board.      For each of us there’s a cave to devour us
spinning against gravity       and there is no placidity, Dana,         because we all fear standing still.

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