Melanie Kristeen

associative thinking

both of my parents have been struck by lightning
Sean says this makes me incredibly lucky
or cursed—either way he’s in the kitchen doorway
blue jeans brown belt no shirt
& I’m clutching an heirloom for cutting—when
I think of lightning I think of my mother’s hands
thick fingernails unpainted—swollen at the knuckles
deep in dingy sink water under an open window
a bolt snaked through—up to the elbows
in cold electricity her arms wilted
starting at the fingers—my father played a game of
trust when we were young—would hold our hands
palm down against a table—spread fingers wide & stab
in between with a pocket knife—faster & faster—don’t move
Sean says—he hugs me from behind—I’ve got a blade in hand
& the tomato bleeds out—
I think of my body as the people who’ve been inside it—Edwin
thinks of me every time he brushes his teeth—I know for certain
he could not love me despite years of trying
to talk himself into it—I’ve got a tattoo in his handwriting
just above the knee on my right thigh—how I dream
of pulling sandpaper across that fucking ink
till blood swarms over—our first time Sean said he didn’t mind blood
so we threw a towel down & went at it—there was something
about his breathing—familiar & warm—a bayou with solace in it
& I should have said I love you
the moment I meant it—he’s leaning cross-armed like Byron
against the door frame—a repurposed sapling—when
I think of lightning I think of my father—
scrappy kid crashing dirt bikes in the orange groves
near his white trash trailer park home when
bright white clouds pooled around—a crack & a flash—it hits him
on his right thigh—leg goes numb & he comes crashing—through
the kitchen window I can see live oaks & South Austin—longing
or something like it—I’ve been quiet—
Sean kisses my forehead
with a mouth full of potato & bacon

Melanie Kristeen is filled with generalized anxiety. She tentatively thinks of herself as a radical feminist, poet and educator who hails from San Antonio, Texas. She just graduated with an MFA in poetry at Texas State University and is currently the 2019-2020 poet in resident at the Clark house in Smithville, Texas. She has been the recipient of a Damsite residency in New Mexico and has been published by University of Hell Press and Black Bough Poetry. She was also a commissioned, featured artist for Luminaria: San Antonio Arts Festival in 2017.