Eleanor Coughlin
Any Pronouns

Editorial Team Member

(This is an excerpt from a lyric essay that I’m writing.)

In my room, in a corner, I have a map of people I know, with lines drawn to other people I know, with more lines connected to people they know who know people I know. Half of these people don’t know each other, but they have a line connecting them to someone else who knows them, who knows their friend, who knows their ex, who knows the first person. Everyone knows everyone in Chicago, even if you don’t know anyone. There’s always some way to find a connection.
When I was younger, I swore to leave Chicago the moment I could. My plan for college was to go somewhere across the country, away from this city that I saw as nothing but a cold trap, sticky black tar on my feet and shoes I couldn’t take off. The tar has dried now, and I have taken off the shoes. But I walk barefoot on the asphalt, and I don’t walk away from my city.

Even in the bitter cold, I have grown to love Chicago. Two years ago, my best friend started a fire for me and said, “I hope this winter isn’t as cold as the last one.” The next Chicago fire burns in what I love, all the people and places, all the music and poetry. The winter has stayed cold, but each winter has been less bitter than the last one. I have learned to spark fires in the cold.

The girl I love looked out the window at the Chicago skyline and lit a fire in her eyes and said, “you know that’s what you look like, right?” There is not a day that goes by without me seeing the skyline, there is not a day that goes by without me thinking about the fires that the people I love have started just to keep me warm.
Some fires are cold. Some fires are warm. All fires burn. Blue is the hottest part of the flame, contrary to popular belief. There are two pairs of blue eyes staring at me. My eyes are blue too. I will put them on my map, light fires down the lines of truths and lies. I will start the next Great Chicago Fire, and someone will know someone who knows someone else who knows three pairs of blue eyes & a box of matches dropped next to shoes stuck in tar.

“200 miles from Chicago, there is blood on the windshield & I’m reeling as you gather your things” – Banks, Lincoln