Thinking of Thursdays

I ended up not leaving the recording of me reading the poem in because it was so damn quiet. Talking to myself is 100% in my practice, but I think I’ve trained myself not to do it too loudly, so I just get quieter as the video continues. But it’s closed captioned, so you can read what it says when I get mumbly and quiet. Edited to add: if you hover over the bottom of the video, a black bar will appear and on the bottom right there’s a “CC” button. Click that, and the text will appear. Sorry about that.

I’m also not sure why one of the clocks behind me is labeled Honolulu, but I assure you, I was not in Hawaii without you. The books I refer to are Hegemony How-To by Jonathan Matthew Smucker & though I forget to name it, A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger.

The line to work with is the very last line in this poem: “This god loves the virus as much as the child.” Oof. What does that mean? Why? Go on, get it.

Ode to the God of Atheists

Ellen Bass

The god of atheists won’t burn you at the stake
or pry off your fingernails. Nor will it make you
bow or beg, rake your skin with thorns,
or buy gold leaf and stained-glass windows.
It won’t insist you fast or twist
the shape of your sexual hunger.
There are no wars fought for it, no women stoned for it.
You don’t have to veil your face for it
or bloody your knees.
You don’t have to sing.

The plums that bloom extravagantly,
the dolphins that stitch sky to sea,
each pebble and fern, pond and fish
are yours whether or not you believe.

When fog is ripped away
just as a rust red thumb slides across the moon,
the god of atheists isn’t rewarding you
for waking up in the middle of the night
and shivering barefoot in the field.

This god is not moved by the musk
of incense or bowls of oranges,
the mask brushed with cochineal,
polished rib of the lion.
Eat the macerated leaves
of the sacred plant. Dance
till the stars blur to a spangly river.
Rain, if it comes, will come.
This god loves the virus as much as the child. 

The plums that bloom extravagantly,
the dolphins that stitch sky to sea,
each pebble and fern, pond and fish
are yours whether or not you believe.

When fog is ripped away
just as a rust red thumb slides across the moon,
the god of atheists isn’t rewarding you
for waking up in the middle of the night
and shivering barefoot in the field.

This god is not moved by the musk
of incense or bowls of oranges,
the mask brushed with cochineal,
polished rib of the lion.
Eat the macerated leaves
of the sacred plant. Dance
till the stars blur to a spangly river.
Rain, if it comes, will come.
This god loves the virus as much as the child.

this guy turned 11 today. We had all our traditions, which had been interrupted by my grad school residencies the past few years: breakfast in bed, watching the sun rise, telling the story of his birth, listening to My Funny Valentine (which he discovered this morning is actually a little bit of a mean song). Such goodness. May he always laugh this easily, and continue to ask surprising questions.

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