Erinn Batykefer


I didn’t even notice the sun had come back.
Things had gotten dark, and I felt like one of those
pale cave-dwelling animals with skinned-over eyes
by the time the world warmed and everything turned to mud.
I was still getting used to the idea that anything was possible
when the bodies started melting from snowbanks.
Someone somewhere had given birth to an equation
they were calling the God equation and the world seemed eager
to fulfill its potential: babies were born twinned with birds,
with spiders. The dead shook off their toe tags
and wandered away from the morgue. Maybe these things
had been happening all along, maybe
it was just that no one had seen them, but the first green bud
outside my window felt like one more impossible thing
made possible. The dead ground was littered with corpses,
their skins gray as bark, hair matted with mud,
and we waited for them. Surely some would come back to us.
I sat in the gray snow by my boyfriend’s body
till a flickering tongue poked out of his mouth
and his throat disgorged a yellow snake.
It unraveled him from the inside and glided off,
leaving only an empty pile of clothes.
They held his old shape for a long time, through rain
and new grass, the way my memories
kept re-constructing him from the flannel and denim,
the way his voice hissed in my ear like static
and said, again and again, You work too hard, baby.
Come lie down with me.



Erinn Batykefer earned her MFA 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 is co-founder and editor of The Library as Incubator Project, and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.