Today I might just forget God altogether, have him stay in his heaven, leave us alone down here with our half-moons and twilights and canned marinara. I might just put down my prayer book and take a walk in the city. There will be children there blowing pink bubbles, babies tucked into fluffy red suits. What need do I have of God on such a day, when I just had good merlot, when I just made love to my husband?
On such a day as this, with all the planets aligned, with our horoscopes in order and our affairs comfortably settled, what need do we have of prayer? Let us put aside the Our Fathers and the Hail Marys. Today we will write our own Psalms. Today is a good day for poetry.
Leave us now to our letters and mailboxes, our three-act plays and wash basins. We have had enough of adoring. Today is a good day for a beer and a cigarette. Today is a good day for slushing through snow, slick with ice. If we fall, we will catch ourselves. When we get home we will empty the garbage pails and put up the soup. We will curl by the fire.
We will engineer the morning with scaffolding and two-by-fours. We will leave our houses and get into our cars. At the stoplights we’ll sing with our iPods and sink into our heated seats. All day we lounge in vibrating chairs and in the break room we heat up leftovers and it’s a good day with no God in it.
Leave us to our test tubes and rockets and electric thingy-ma-jigs. We have a need for plastics and circuit boards and we will have what we do. We have had done with Bible drills and altar calls. We remember summer camp and we take it back. We take back our prayers and our hymns and while we’re at it, we take back our salvation too.
Today I will revel in this moment I’m in, standing here at a high window looking far, far down on the world. I am braced by the winter and there’s a choir at my back I might leap into the air. I might break loose and fly but I’m still here, inside the great microscope of God’s eye. I am a speck of pond water, the shoe-shaped microbe I found in ninth grade. Swaddled into my heavy clothes, I swim from one side of eternity to the other.
Rebecca Cook, a 2009 Bread Loaf Scholar in Fiction, writes poetry and prose and has published in many journals, most recently Georgia Review, Antioch Review, Pank, Plume, Sliver of Stone, Southeast Review, The Cortland Review, Atticus Review, The Rumpus, Grist and others. Her essay, “Flame,” published in Southeast Review (2012), was a notable essay in the 2013 Best American Essays. Her essay, “My Eyes Are Watching God,” was recently published in The Rumpus. In 2006, her chapbook, The Terrible Baby, was published by Dancing Girl Press. Her book of poems, I Will Not Give Over, was published by Aldrich Press in 2013. She blogs at godlikepoet.com
© 2013 The Antioch Review