Erinn Batykefer earned her Master of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is the author of Allegheny, Monongahela (Red Hen Press) and The Artist's Library: A Field Guide (Coffee House Press). She served as co-founder and editor of The Library as Incubator Project from 2010 to 2017 and is managing editor of Five Loves. She lives in Pittsburgh.
That morning—grass flayed open over the freshest graves,
and the corner bodega cleaned out of tea lights
and veladoras—I knew my business would change.
People had shivered over their vigils all night,
certain as headstones that their dead would come back.
They didn’t care how Twilight worked; they wanted
to believe, like X-files kids in black Mulder tees,
so I fanned the tarot and told them, love love love
is just around the corner, just not the way you expect.
Fear was even easier to sell—an extra Tower
in my deck spelled doom, all the evil eye charms
permanently half price. Two years on, my storefront
is still the only one on the block no one’s shattered
with a baseball bat—everyone knows someone
who needs proof. The neon sign in my window
glows blue, a palm upraised in benediction
to all those who still sleep on the churchyard grass,
and to those who curl up at night with someone warmer
to pretend they’ve moved on. What can I say?
They’re the steadiest business—the ones still turning
corners, hope in their hands sweet as a red velvet cake.