Janis Joplin’s Ghost and I Shelter Before the Texas Twister
by Elizabeth Muscari
We’re on the porch when the falsetto sirens whine, and you tell me that there's no knowing if this storm is what kills me, leaves me thrown mangled somewhere, wilting into a tragedy between the switchgrass. Listen, Janis. Our bodies shape into what everyone else believes or doesn't want to believe about them––your wide smile piercing rosy cheeks, your hourglass bootheel gliding across carpet. This is never the version anyone remembers. All they ever talk about is your skinny legs and the drugs and the drunk dark, the carpet catching your foot. And tonight, the sky murmurs thunder, and tells of another big one coming through. You rush me into the bathtub and ask if I’m afraid to die. Of course, Janis. Storms like these suck the lights and leave. They squeeze you breathless in the dark. That’s the point, Janis. Storms don’t care if you’re scared. Storms don’t care if you make it out alive. They crave the land, Janis. They lap at anything worth taking. A storm like this could chew the city. A storm like this could tatter my house. A storm like this could shove folks into the dark. No one gets accounted for when it’s all over. You hold the mattress above my head and tell me to hunker. It's time to brace for what barrels towards me. And the wind whistles closer, and you laugh as I try to sing over it, and I’m singing lord, lord, lord, the whole damn time.
Elizabeth Muscari is a poet from Fayetteville, Arkansas. She is currently a Master of Fine Arts candidate at the University of Arkansas and serves as the Development Director for The Arkansas International. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Nashville Review, Waccamaw Journal, among others. She was a finalist for the Mid-America Alliance’s 2021 Artists 360 grant, and a recipient of the 2022 Felix Christopher McKean Award, judged by Sarah Blake. You can visit her website at www.elizabethmuscari.com or on Twitter @elizmuscari.