In god’s kitchen,

you can’t quite see over the top of the stove.
It’s old and a little rusty, looks like someone’s
great grandmother’s stove, it should be burning wood,
from the cast-iron look of it, but you know the trees
in god’s backyard are holy so it doesn’t seem right
to ask what’s burning inside the stove,
but it’s as warm in this kitchen as coming inside
in the fall when the new-dug potatoes are baking.

God’s an old white guy— and yeah, I know
that story’s old, too, older than god, so to speak,
but you don’t understand, I don’t mean it like that—
I mean white, like snow on the first morning.
If it weren’t for the planes of his face
and the shadows they make, you’d see
nothing at all, you’d go snow-blind looking, so I guess
the difference between god and a good snowstorm,
is a little bit of bone and muscle underneath the skin,
or the way light plays off them.

White, white, white, is what you see; the only color
is in his eyes—but I can’t tell you about them
it makes me dizzy to try. And I keep saying “he,”
because he has that kind of look about him—
sort of rugged, you know, but a little broken-down—
and there’s the beard, because that’s what’s expected
of him—but still, I don’t really know about the “he” thing.
The truth is the Christians’d probably call him a faggot
if they weren’t so busy being afraid of him; he’s easy, a little
soft, somehow, more like somebody’s mother
than they’d just as soon think about, but I don’t really know
about that either (the faggot part, I mean)— we like to say
this gender thing’s just a human idea, that god’s above all that,
but believe me, he’s got it, all right, gender, I mean,
got more of it than you can shake a stick at,
it’s just that— well, there’s nothing you can call it.

So anyway, I was saying, in god’s kitchen,
with the holy trees talking secrets to each other soft
in the backyard, and the ragweed growing out
around the back stoop and going to seed
and the Michaelmas daisies peeking in the back door,
you stand there just inside, looking around
kind of careful, and god busy with what he’s doing
at the table by that big stove, doing something you can’t quite
get your eyes to focus on, and god looks up
from whatever it is—looks down, really, because like I said
the stove is so high you can’t see over it, and the table
likewise, and even after you take the proportions into account,
this dude is tall, you know?—

so finally he looks over at you, says, “Hey!
What’s up?” and then you think maybe that big
scruffy cat that just slipped out the back door past you
took your tongue along with it, because your mouth
just doesn’t seem to want to move, but god just says
“You want a cup of  _______?” and somehow
I can’t quite tell you what the word he uses is, or what
it means, exactly, it’s kind of a word you never heard,
but soon as he asks, you know that Yes, that’s exactly
what you do want, and so he reaches over to the stove
for a pot of something steaming there that you hadn’t noticed
until now, and pours you out a mug of it, and it smells like morning
lying bright and easy over summer grass after a hard rain
when you’d just had a night of really good sex
with somebody that’d just come out of nowhere
making you feel like everything
that had ever been wrong was all of a sudden
going to be alright, and afterwards you lay
skin to skin in the dark curve of the night
just breathing and listening to the storm coming

and when you drink it, it’s like there’re these glyphs
that are tattooed on the inside of your skin
that’re suddenly visible, telling you who you are
and why you’re here, and just then the cat comes back in,
rubbing against your leg as it goes by,
and then you speak—I can’t even tell you now
just what those words are that you hear yourself speaking—
I’m just telling you the truth, with whatever words
I can pick up off the ground now and dust off to use,
that words are spoken. What matters, and what I remember,
is this: that when he hears you, god laughs
a great big river of a laugh
up out of the belly of the world
and when you hear that laugh,
you smile, because just like that,
you get it, you know?

and you turn and walk away,
down the rickety steps
past the blue daisies and the thistles gone by
with the goldfinches gone to heaven, and
the ragweed and the lanky grass, you go out
through the trees that nod and stop whispering
for a minute, their heads bowed to one side,
listening with you to that laugh
rolling out behind you,
and you walk into the underside
of the forest there, under dark hemlocks
and through the tall ferns,
till you come back to here, to now,
tired out,
but ready

to start again.


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