A Million Year Old Circus


My mom died believing dinosaurs were a hoax.
The Great Dinosaur Emporium littered our town with flyers and posters months before they came. Older kids got paid to stuff mailboxes, staple community boards. Biggest thing to happen to our lonely village in the summer of ’62. Before this, only hayrides and demolition derbies.


We talked like it was real, a traveling zoo for dinosaurs. I stood there with my pals watching the boxcars unfolded, the frantic pace of setting up. Took four men to raise the mighty Brontosaurus. The sign behind it read:“The Thunder Lizards Live Again.”


My mom was German-Catholic. Dad often said that she’d bite her own ass if she could reach it. When she saw me standing there with the gang, she didn’t yell, she just stared and waited.


“God did not create dinosaurs,” she said, as I walked up to her, my head down. “They’re the fiction of scientists and men.”


Who was I to question her? Nine-year-old kid. I didn’t know any better.


We talked as we walked home.


“What about fossils?”


“Who can trust fossils?”


“What about the behemoth in Job?”


She’d have none of the behemoth.


“A cow can be a behemoth, too, depending on how you look at ‘em.”


She took the same perspective with nonbelievers; they were all beasts to my mom. No different than the cows. The eternal slaughter awaiting.


“It’s just a circus,” she said, and would claim for the rest of her life, not once considering the wonders beyond her faith. “All of it make-believe. The sooner it passes, the better.”




A Michigan native, Mike Salisbury’s fiction has appeared in Avery Anthology, Black Warrior Review, and Crab Orchard Review, among others. Mike is a recent graduate of the MFA program at Pacific University. He lives and works along the Front Range of the Rockies.




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Cover photo:  angus mcdiarmid https://www.flickr.com/people/angusmcdiarmid/