Stephen Dunn reads

Talk to God

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Thank him for your little house
on the periphery, its splendid view
of the wildflowers in summer,
and the nervous, forked prints of deer
in that same field after a snowstorm.
Thank him even for the monotony
that drives us to make and destroy
and dissect what otherwise would be
merely the lush, unnamed world.
Ease into your misgivings.
Ask him if in his weakness
he was ever responsible
for a pettiness—some weather, say,
brought in to show who’s boss
when no one seemed sufficiently moved
by a sunset, or the shape of an egg.
Ask him if when he gave us desire
he had underestimated its power.
And when, if ever, did he realize
love is not inspired by obedience?
Be respectful when you confess to him
you began to redefine heaven
as you discovered certain pleasures.
And sympathize with how sad it is
that awe has been replaced
by small enthusiasms, that you’re aware
things just aren’t the same these days,
that you wish for him a few evenings
surrounded by the old, stunned silence.
Maybe it will be possible then
to ask, Why this sorry state of affairs?
Why—after so much hatefulness
done in his name—no list of corrections
nailed to some rectory door?
Remember to thank him for the silkworm,
apples in season, photosynthesis,
the northern lights. And be sincere.
But let it be known you’re willing to suffer
only in proportion to your errors,
not one unfair moment more.
Insist on this as if it could be granted:
not one moment more.