Kristin Emanuel

the amnesiac’s rhapsody


every time they met

he would wipe

her memories clean

with a palette knife

the next morning

she would wake

wondering whether

certain

aromas and sensations

had even existed

mint julep

tulips and bitten lips

particular acoustics

a blues singer’s swollen lyric

a sculpt of shadow

a swig or a wing

these things

that she mistook

for dreams

he understood far better

having left each impression

like a love letter

a signature

the way artists

sometimes leave

textured paint

to dry on portraits



Just a Small Apocalypse


2 years ago, the world ended here.

That spring the prairie fire crab-

apple trees and winged spindles

were all fragrantly irradiated.


Visiting town, I no longer recognize

my friends or myself with them.

The heat is oppressive. We sit

by the street shouting over mufflers,

attempting to salvage something.


Ours was just a small apocalypse.

90% of all species, including trilobites,

perished during the Permian extinction.


Lizards dart from a thicket near

my old apartment. I take pains not

to step on them, noticing new

sidewalk cracks, fresh graffiti.


Inside the natural history museum,

my favorite mosasaur descends

from a skeletal mount. Her jaw is still

wide, her ribs still jutting, her spine

still a fantastical swirl. In every way,

miraculously, exactly as I remembered.



Flood Song for the 21st Century


The Western Interior Seaway

reawakens & my ceiling

begins dripping.

~

All afternoon, the TV streams

videos of chickadees

plucking seeds from teacups

while I scrub mud

from the shoe-streaked rug.

~

A brief natural history of Missouri:

waterways teeming with fish,

lacy bryozoans & crinoids & then

hickory, linden, musk oxen;

cave systems braided under St. Louis

with names like “Dragon’s Den.”

~

The Metro breasts waves—

not a beached whale

but its noxious opposite.

~

Bucketful, schlepping

through the muck

& grease & colossal glory

of whatever came before me.

~

We did not construct these

floodplains or even these

boarded-up buildings—

did not invent the milkweed,

sassafras & lobelias; like all

living things, we are just

descendants tending

to descendants, trapped

in a city full of mirrors

reflecting our own

monstrous luminosity.

 

Kristin Emanuel holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Kansas, where she studied speculative ecopoetics and the comics poetry movement. She is now a PhD student studying Poetry & Poetics at Washington University in St. Louis. Her latest poems and comics have appeared in journals such as Sidereal Magazine, Thrush Poetry Journal, Shenandoah, The Rupture, and The Indianapolis Review, among others.