Keep me in the hollows and the valleys.
Let there be churches in the marketplace
and small red boats on the Allegheny.
Let the funicular climb its mountain at dusk
and seven-hundred bridges light
the rivers, revealing the city’s dark wishbone.
Let me see my face there, mirrored, mapped in lights.
I am far-flung and kneeling over memory’s holystone
to pray: let each open space be made of water.
Let every road go unnamed.
Let the land be so steep the houses teeter
on stilts. Whenever I am,
let the half-life of this city in my skin
be longer than I’ll live.
From Allegheny, Monongahela by Erinn Batykefer. Used by permission of the poet and Red Hen Press. Copyright © 2009 by Erinn Batykefer.