It’s Not This Quiet

(after Kristin Hersh)

I think last night my cat woke a spirit, singing in my ear

as I slept. I don’t know how I got here—the mirror in my hallway

is its own blaze of memory and the quiet circles me like

loops of wire. I pause in this narrow stretch of haunting to cherish

the silver. I’m deleting that number. I am the ghost in this story—

it’s so dark in here that I see myself reflected in every shadow. Shot down

in my sleep I’m a basket case in the bathroom again, feverish.

I isolate myself to keep this fever quarantined and the endless hallway

of my thirty-sixth year can be measured in all these worn-out shoes

and unanswered phone calls. If there were a cord, I’d cut it.

I’ve heard everything now and the line between medicine

and murder is petal-thin. I hold it in a whisper and in the evening

I take off my boots because I’m not that tough. I’ve learned

to sweat and hold my breath in this century, to close my eyes awake

in bed and dream. To keep buying dresses for the person inside me

that doesn’t destroy me. I pour a circle of salt around her and

I drink my coffee. I let her live in my closet with the Christmas gifts.

I think last night I saw the ocean and I gave it all the quiet

I kept in my ribs. I could call that number, find out who’s there, ask

if they’ve seen that hallway, its bedrooms that always flood

in my sleep. Tonight at three a.m. I’ll remember every bad idea that

I’ve ever worn around my neck, silver trembling in the mirror.


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.