The Boiler

E. Kristin Anderson

Between 50 and 64% of rats will self-administer diazepam

                 So I have to imagine a rat on valium
and how she might lap up that nectar, roll over,
breathe, and find a modicum of peace in home.

How home is more habit than locale—a ritual
with scheduled meals and a nurse calling you honey.

I am also belly-up. My vein is open. And the rat waits.
Wails. And I wait. Our breaths slow and suck at beige.
Gloved hands reach in to touch.

Look, how her eyelids droop, some dream a tremor
in her feet. I avoid the mirror, wait for a friend
to promise there is color in my cheeks again.

No, the IV. Always the IV. It burns;
take your hand and push. My sister rat and I
have had enough of hunger and shallow headboards.

_______________________________

E. Kristin Anderson is the author of seven chapbooks including A GUIDE FOR THE PRACTICAL ABDUCTEE (Red Bird Chapbooks 2014) PRAY, PRAY, PRAY: Poems I wrote to Prince in the middle of the night (Porkbelly Press, 2015), 17 DAYS (ELJ Publications) ACOUSTIC BATTERY LIFE (ELJ 2016), FIRE IN THE SKY (Grey Book Press 2016), and SHE WITNESSES (dancing girl press, 2016).  She’s currently a poetry editor for Found Poetry Review and also edits at Lucky Bastard. Her work has appeared in Juked, Hotel Amerika, [PANK], Asimov’s Science Fiction, and is forthcoming in Folio and Red Paint Hill. She grew up in Maine, lives in Austin, Texas, and blogs at EKristinAnderson.com.