After God 

                                                                   Poems from the Collection 

 

                                 Part One: FIRST KNOWING

 

 

THE JUNK MAN AND THE SISTER

 

              1.

 

At four my little body,

little soul, join like

play pals.  Alone we rock

 

and rock and

rock hours

on the old arm chair.

 

Joy to the world!

The Lord has come!

I sing it in body.

 

I sing it in soul.

I howl in protest

when finally Mama

 

brings in the junk man

to take away the chair

I’ve worn down to

 

trash. In theatric futility,

in tears I pull

against the junk man and

 

stomp my feet.

 

 

 

 

 

GOD'S PAPER EYES

 

Sister Steven Helen

smiles

 

and lifts the cover page

of the huge pad on the tripod

 

to reveal

 

to my five-year-old, wide eyes:

GOD

 

in bright

comic book pastels.

 

Against a paper sky of blue, I see

an old man, white-haired,

 

long white beard.  He wears

white sheets.

 

He sits on a gold chair

that’s on a cloud.

 

This is: 

God, the Father, who

 

made you to

know, love and

 

serve Him.

There is anger in his eyes.

 

Around him people with wings

and gold hair bow down.

 

 

 

Part Two: UNKNOWING

 

 

 

 

 

DIVORCE CAN BE NASTY

 

Curmudgeon!

Despot

Lightning hurler

Crank upstairs

 

Over

Lauded

 

Over

Feared

 

Elusive as a cockroach

When the light switch flips

 

Biblical Wizard of Oz

That’s You

 

We’re through!

 

 

 

Part Three: Unknowing Squared

 

 

 

HOLE IN THE SOUL

 

Some days I believe in You.  Some not.

But even when not, I still wonder about You.

The space You fill before I unbelieve You

never leaves with You.

 

I once had a cat for a month.  Drove me crazy

with allergies and pooping on my washing machine and

never coming to me when I called.  Just like You.

I gave the cat away.  Came home and found

 

it left its space behind.  Empty.  Sad space.  I missed that cat.

But only for a while.  Soon the cat’s empty space was gone.

Like any emptied self-respecting space, it had cursed me,

shook the dust of me from its feet, and left to follow the cat.

 

But not Your space.  It always stays

when I empty it of You.

Hangs a vacancy sign in its window.  And

through it, stares blank back at me. 

 

OK then.  Come home.

Just for tonight.

Tomorrow I will unbelieve you again.

But tonight come

 

fill

the hole

in

my soul.

 

 

 

                     

 

              2.

 

In first grade

God, stolen by the junk man,

comes around each day, ethereal

 

feminine, hooded and cloaked

in black, hypnotically close

over me in Sister, checking

 

the little block letters I practice

in my copybook.  When she draws

near, the air around her

 

carries the scent

of her veil—like God breathing

over my head.

 

Big black Rosary beads hang

from her waist beside my ear. I listen

 

into their rattle—secret strange

clicky sounds from God.

 

 

These are:

Angels,

 

who live in the sky with God

in a place called Heaven.

 

I look for the green of trees

and grass.  None.

 

With her wooden pointer

Sister taps God’s paper eyes.

 

God is watching

you

 

all day, all

night, all day, all night

 

to see

if you are good,

 

but especially to see

if you are          

 

bad.

 

TWO CALLS 

 

Are You watching—

whispering wordless

Leave?

 

The same You who

called me

in?

 

The You again who

calls me

out?

 

Or are the calls 

only me

 

hunting

me

 

hunting

You?

 

 

 

CLAY FEET

 

Yesterday, when I was walking exiled

in clay feet in the cool of the evening

outside the garden of the Tree

 

of the Knowledge of Good and Evil,

God slipped into a pair

of clay feet too

 

We walked foot to foot for some time

and being that close, I noticed that

God is:

 

More earth than air

           More of here than of there -- 

           And all of now

           

Bounding in and out of ifs

            Abiding boundless inside is

 

Transcendent most

            When curled in the crannies of creation

i

As much a She as He

             And She is also we, and God forgive me,

             Also me

 

Creeds cannot catch Him

            Nor churches cage Her –

                        He keeps no throne in Rome

 

She has no test for us to pass

            No will for us to bow to—

                        He burns no hell

 

She yawns when She hears “O God” intoned

            By preachers over the pews

                        But He cups His ear when

 

A lone soul whispers

             O God, help me make it

                       Through the night

 

That’s when He leans in and

             That’s when the lone soul

                  May be opened to the abiding hum

 

That mutely carries His response

              From the ground

                   Of His universe:

 

                Nothing to do but be, dear,

 

                         Nowhere to be but here