I Don’t Own Anxiety, But I Borrow It Regularly

By Kelli Russell Agodon

Once I believed the saint I carried could keep me
safe. He lived in a rain jacket I wore
to keep out the weather and by weather,
I mean danger. Tell me a story
where no one dies. That story begins in heaven,
ends in heaven and includes chapters
on heaven, heaven, and heaven.

It’s not really story, but a wish or concern.

Sometimes I wonder if there’s one moment
when no one is dying, where we all exist
on this planet without loss—
but there are too many of us
doing foolish things, someone is always sipping
the arsenic, someone is always spinning
a gun. And then,

add old age, misfortune, a tree that’s leaned too long
in the forest and a family of five
headed off for a hike.

We cannot predict our tragedies.

We can’t plan a party for the apocalypse
because friends of the apocalypse know
the apocalypse always shows up
uninvited and with a bag of half-eaten chips.

This is why some of us wake up
in the middle of night looking for saint—
and maybe your saint is the moon,
or maybe your phone, or maybe
it’s that moment you walk out the door
to look up at the stars
just to prove to the heavens you’re still alive.

This Poem Features In: