by Maurya Simon
O God–who art dust mote and fern spore,
salt crystal and dog-star, who art refinery smoke,
cumulus, leaf-rot, dishwater and spindrift–
how can I know thy invisible movements
through this world, when thou inhabit even
the debris of lives, the perforations of years?
God, who wears the green mask of death,
who visits the world in wisps of prayer,
how can I divine thy face through my tears?
Give me some sign–a thumbprint, a fragrance
of hyacinth, stigmata of coal on my brow–
that I may steep my silence in faith;
show me thy secret handshake welcoming
the weeds, thy luminous smile, thy mind
that spins the world wildly on its axis–
consecrate me as thou would the tiger’s yawn,
offering itself like the poor man’s bowl,
to the terrified fawn, to the wayward dove–
and I will do thy bidding, polishing words
so they gleam like ice, abandoning my rage
to kneel before thee, swallowing my doubt.
But there is no answer when I call out,
and my longing darkens my throat, my mouth.
How can I lift my eyes to a gutted sky?
O God, who art neither father nor son, nor
holy ghost, who art haloed by radium clouds,
beloved by millions of sparkplugs and ants,
thou who nestles in war’s lap, in the breasts
of desire, who conspires with the darkest joys,
who art as amorphous as a map of stillness–
I cry out to thee again and again, over
and over, and only the wilderness answers,
and the dangerous world’s laughter–