Hendricks, Brent (c) Kate BernheimerSo, you have a new book coming out—could you tell us a little about that?

Sure, I have something else I’d like to talk about too, but yes, the book is called A Long Day at the End of the World, and it’s a personal narrative about the Tri-State Crematory Incident.  It’s a very gothic Southern story.  In 2002, it was discovered that a crematory operator in rural North Georgia had failed to cremate hundreds of bodies over a five year period.  He’d sent the families fake cremains, composed primarily of concrete dust, to cover his crime, and he’d left the rotting corpses strewn all over the crematory grounds.  Most of the bodies he’d dumped into eight mass burial pits, which were then covered with trash and, in one instance, an old pool table.  As it turns out, my father’s body was one of the first bodies abandoned at the site, in 1997.

longdayatendofworldBecause a picture is a sort of dream, the big moon circles the whirling earth that follows our little burning star, and my father hasn’t entered the third state. He’s not stretched out here in the backwoods of nowhere, becoming the ground. All the stars are flying away, the universe emptying out, my father emptied by the moon’s glare until he’s all shadow and light, beautiful almost, so overexposed he could be a young man in a photograph.

Light-seconds above, orbiting Hubble aims its lens—always backward into the night that was. Clicks a portrait of the artist as a young bomb.

We measure the future by measuring the past.

So where did he go? Where did the light go that was his body, the blood that cycled his veins, the too-bright picture of him with his sweetheart (my mother in her saddle oxfords and he in his jeans), their white shirts fused into the stone of an Oklahoma high school? Six years later he’d be flying out of a SAC base in Topeka, up to the North Pole and back, heavy with a single bomb.