salvation burnette




it’s been about ten years since it all happened

i text my friend one night recently

you don’t have to answer this

/ we can talk more about it later

but did you ever pray there?

we usually say there instead of naming it

unless we’re making fun of the name but

even then there’s always a slight

pause before the utterance

like saying it will make it appear

will send us back

beetlejuice beetlejuice beetlejuice

i―v— i―v— i―v—

anyway i thought about prayer

because i was having this vision of myself

many of my memories feel invasive like visions

uncontrollable / consuming / vibratory

when i replay them in my head it’s like watching

the footage from two cameras facing each other

one lodged deep inside my skull peering out through an eye

one as high & vast as the ceiling or sun

i’d earned the privilege of being outside alone for 30 minutes

i was wearing a red shirt & sitting in a cracked birdbath

at the edge of a field & i looked out at the fence & the crispy grass

then i watched a line of other kids filing from the dining hall back to their unit

staff flanking the front & back of the line to ensure no one went awol

i thought about when e— tried to run & was tackled immediately

how we filed by her imprint in the snow for weeks

how she was confined to the unit

how we found that fluffy grey cat

frozen behind the shed

how i missed my cats at home

how i missed being able to write

something no one would ever read

being able to speak

i said a word out loud

i don’t know which one

god maybe or fuck

i said it quietly

like there was a moth sleeping in the back of my mouth

that i was trying not to disturb

my voice sounded strange

like it was coming from outside me

i hadn’t been alone in a long time

i didn’t know what to do

so i prayed

quietly at first but then louder

louder until i was screaming & i could be

as loud as i wanted & no one was there to stop me

from talking to myself or to god or to

the three birds circling overhead

my skin began to brighten

my eyes turned to diamonds & tumbled to the ground

streams of opalescent glitter spurted from my head

the plants around me tripled in size & flowered immediately

even the grass was exploding with huge shining blossoms

i was radiant & i felt lighter

i felt like light itself

with each breath i took i flew higher & higher

then the alarm on my watch started beeping

& i shrank to the size of an olive

i ran back to the unit

before staff sent someone out to find me


salvation burnette is a writer and artist living in boston. find more work at