The Oracle Retires

by Megan Arkenberg

The last card is the apple tree,

fruit brown like drops of menstrual blood,

snakes in its roots—the card of investment.

The card that means moving houses,

trading a twin bed for a double,

calling when you’re late. She leaves it on the table.

The window is open, smelling of the sea.

She goes to the window and lights

a cigarette, watches the summer people’s linen

and straw hats drifting by on the sidewalk.

The house stands two blocks from the beach.

The sun and moon painted on her door, locked

in a permanent quarrel, their teeth bared

and smudged by incense smoke. 

Nail between her lips, she flips her sign

and posts Going out of business

and pauses, and adds

as an afterthought:

The future is not a god.

It does not get to demand sacrifices. 


Megan Arkenberg lives in northern California, where she is pursuing a Ph.D. in English Literature. Her poetry has been published in dozens of places, including Strange Horizons, Goblin Fruit, Asimov’s, and Polu Texni, and her short fiction has most recently appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies and GlitterShip. She procrastinates by editing the fantasy e-zine Mirror Dance. Find her online at