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The Time We Tried to Sacrifice My Cousin to the Devil

We were bored. This was the Upper Peninsula
of Michigan, where nobody is from, especially
not anyone you’d consider a saint. So goddamn
far from Bethsaida, Tarsus, or even St. Paul, MN.
We ate snow for supper, walked backwards so
that the wind wouldn’t eat our eyes and when I

found the book in the high school library, I
stuck it up my shirt, the sheer sex of its pages
against my skin, and brought it home to reread
the spell of how to turn the earth into sky and
have its lungs open up to breathe in my cousin
if we’d just get him to stand in the dead center

of a pentagram. He did, too, easily coaxed in
a way that surprised the hell into me. I still
can see his still body with the spider of branches
above us all, the cold June with the houselights
of my parents’ bedroom like wolf eyes peeking
through the trees. And when the ground refused

to yawn and the spell had been repeated so that
we could only think about our hunger, we walked
back to our basement bedrooms deep inside
of our houses that were coffined by blizzards
for so many months of the year, waiting
for anything to happen, but it never ever did.



Ron Riekki’s books include And Here: 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing, 1917-2017 (Michigan State University Press), Here: Women Writing on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal Best Regional Fiction), The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works (Michigan Notable Book), and U.P.: a novel (Ghost Road Press).