A Summer Night
by Brady Peterson

We lie to our children, unable to bear
the emptiness of what we know—
my daughter realizes heaven is full
of dead people—just a bunch of dead
people, she says. She is four.

Death is a door, we say when fireflies
glow in the evening. A summer night
in Arkansas—the air thick with the smell
of bark and honeysuckles. The knob
turns, a door opens, then shuts.

Someone you loved—love still.

Fried catfish with French fried potatoes,
sweetened ice tea—the ice clinking
in the tumblers. They drove past our house
on the way to the restaurant, my cousin
says. I waved at them.

We sing old songs, the ones we sang
as children when the only radio was AM
and fuzzy. We walk the street of a town
where we lived, waiting for my father
to come home from the war.

The church on the corner where
my brother asleep slipped from his
front row seat to the floor—the preacher
steps from behind the pulpit, reaches
down and picks him up without

skipping a beat in his sermon.

Illya's Honey Literary Journal

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