Brennan Burnside

Before lightning, my church says, God took no pictures  
because there was nothing to see.  Many, many years ago,  
hills of moonlit dryer lint buried the after-life.  God wandered  
around aimlessly looking at a photograph like a conductor minding 
his pocket watch.  Thin glossy veneer of a folded Polaroid, the first and  
last of its kind of his son at work, staring up at the sky  
that’s not-yet and asking “Why?” 

The day is overcast, and the road is uneven in this part.  It’s hard 
to see anything.  A sooty fog advances from all corners  
haunted by pareidolic outlines, like the Sea of Tranquility.   
In fact, early sketches of heaven have an eerie similarity 
to ruins on the surface of the moon. 

They run into each other, mulling through the emptiness,  
his son asks what he’s holding and God folds the photograph  
in his hands.  “Something special.  You’ll see,” he says.   
No one knows, not even his son, why he smiles, so they say  
at church, their hands curled as if a palsy had overtaken their limbs 
and we close our eyes and all curl our palms in echo. 

Brennan Burnside lives near Myrtle Beach, SC.  He blogs sometimes ( and tweets (@bbburnside).  His work recently appeared in Barnstorm and Fail Better.


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