When I’m driving around, sometimes a line pops into my head and I think it deserves a whole poem. Like this little phrase earlier today: The exquisite pain of knowing… The chances of remembering it for long were slim, so as I negotiated the traffic, I repeated it over and over, even though I didn’t think I was in pain. I was, instead, enraged.
The roads were terrible; people were driving stupid. It’s election day and as usual, my beloved state has gone to the highest bidders. Good, honest people ran against paranoia and lost. I knew I was angry, but when God tapped me on the shoulder I jerked the wheel and yelled, “Fuck you, God.” This surprised us both.
I’m home now but there’s no poem waiting for me. God made a hasty exit at a red light. Fine with me. Who needs any kind of God riding along, let alone a misrepresented, passive one?
To ward off a potential return, I put my fingers in my ears and sing la la la la la. I think of people who don’t love me and hate them for it. And then I retract the hate because I don’t want to be loved anyway. I’m weary of it all. I make herbal tea and wait for the end.
“Finished?” God asks, in a quiet, almost tender voice.
“Yeah,” I say. “You?”
“Oh, I’ve been finished for a very long time.”
“Did you quit or were you fired?” I’m still feeling a little hostile, but I push a slice of sourdough toast toward God. Breaking bread together might help.
“Technically, I was finished before I started,” God says, and takes a bite of the toast.
I make a face, hoping to signal that I don’t like these cryptic answers.
God also makes a face. “There’s something wrong with this toast. It’s bitter.”
“Well, why don’t you whip out your magic wand and fix it?”
God smiles. “Because as I said, I’m done. I turned in my wand so we could be friends. Maybe you should feed this to your pigs.”
“We’re going to eat those pigs someday,” I say.
“I doubt it,” God says. “But good on you for trying.”
The snow continues, and visibility is limited. There will be anger, anxiety, and accidents throughout the day. Night will fall and bring a temporary peace. This moment will be the last for some. The first for others.
God remains soft and circular. I am linear and limited, and I realize that this is the knowing that brings the exquisite pain.
No worries, I whisper to myself. You’re tough. And you can always make more bread. This isn’t true, but God doesn’t contradict me. For that, I am grateful.