“When I was alive, I aimed to be a student not of longing, but of light.” 

– Maggie Nelson 


I drive furiously north with the thickest olive oil

in my wiper fluid reservoir, sliding out

from the center like watercolor paint blown

with a straw. My foot is leaden

and my blood feels soupy and ferrous, like comfort

food made in a bind. My windshield

looks like a funhouse mirror: in it, I see outlines

of passed trees behind my dense insincere,

oval stars, color congested yellow. I turn, and every car

for miles blinks right-turn in sync.

There is nothing, then menacing red, then

nothing again. Reminds me of the goats

that my mother made docile with bacon fried

in benadryl and lined up for slaughter: the only light they emit

is the one that says where they will disappear next.


photo credit: StockSnap via Creative Commons

About the author

Katherine Culligan is an essayist and poet living in Knoxville, TN. She is the recipient of the 2018 Michael Dennis Award for Poetry and Margaret Woodruff Award for Creative Writing. Her favorite responsibilities are teaching ESL and big sisterhood.

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