My daughter, who is 13, when she believes in God at all, is usually angry at Him. (I’d say Her, but usually her anger is directed at a Patriarch, so Him fits.) She’ll say, for example, about the fact that my father died on the morning of my first wedding anniversary, “Yeah, nice timing, God.” And I was thinking about this recently, and remembered this old poem, included in my college’s literary magazine from my junior year, which is evidence not only that I can sympathize with her anger (though it no longer holds me in its sway), but also that I used to use commas at the end of lines.
Someday, when I am nothing but old bones —
my hip, like a dinosaur’s thigh, jutting
from a boulder, my shoulder left alone
among rubble, rocks, my teeth cutting
nothing but mold, and all these bones
whitened by ages of suns and waters running,
when my last bleached bone is beached
on some ancient shore, and every core
and solid place has been bored and breached
by a gluttonous worm
the gods will want more.
And I will offer up my old bones, saying
Take this, all of you, and eat–there is no more.
But those damned insistent deities will say
“Quit playing! We’ve watched you for a thousand
years as you took your time (such sloth!) decaying.
We’ve watched your flesh rot, eyes, tongue,
ears, all your atoms danced away to feed
the ever hungry universe, yet we fear
you’ve held something back we desperately need.”
Ah, I’ll say, you must mean my heart.
So you, in all your eternal greed,
miss that little thing? I kept it from
the start preserved in hate and disillusion
in hopes that you would spare me that one part
left me in this nothing. Pardon my confusion.
Take it, then. Take it, my last Communion;
though it’s bitter, and heavy, and smooth
as a stone. Eat it, take a bite, break a tooth.