Parable of the Dead by Allie Gove
Parable of the Dead
My mother used to tell stories late at night, after my dad had finished reading the Bible to us. She fed us hopes of the afterlife as if it were six feet above us: neon stars glued to the popcorn ceiling, just barely out of reach. That maybe when our children were old and perforated, that God would come to collect us and take us up to the surface of the sun to burn off most of our sins. There he would burn off what could be burnt off and check his handiwork by stretching each of our cells out to Pluto and back again and again, plucking them out as he saw them and dropping them among the stars. We asked her what happened to sins after they’d been dropped by God, and she told us that some stayed up there, transformed by his touch into stars. Others came back to earth infrared, to burn through the atmosphere and punish those who remained.
When my mother died, it was a hot day. We laid out in the sun, crying, praying. That night, we peeled off our sunburns, piled them in the urn. Later, we went back to our childhood home, where we were now tall enough to reach the neon stars, and took them from the ceiling to lay with some part of her again. In that silenced part of our old house, we let the old stars balance on our punished skin and could almost hear her crying. Could almost hear her urgent whispers beating at our ears as they pierced us again and again in our disbelief.
© 2017 Allie Gove
Allie Gove lives near Sacramento, CA where she recently graduated from CSUS and serves as a board member at the Sacramento Poetry Center. Her work has appeared in many publications, including Lumina, Dash, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Words Dance, The Bookends Review, and more.
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