God & Algebra

he says  "God lives in our hearts"     and     "we die and return"
his plait sprouts from his crown, short and feeble
but his smile is a fireplace of living coals
and she wonders whether
it’s the sun or his smile that warms her face. 
foot to foot, she crosses her arms and squints

she says    "are we like trees?"    feeling like she’s on a bridge
"we die and merge into the Earth and then to grow again"
her metaphor crosses his face, swift as a stream  
but does not stop
her father seems to be saying to her
"what you do to one side, you must do to the other" 

he is saying "this is karma" the book in his hand 
shows a cow with a man’s face
about to be slaughtered by a man with a cow’s face
the axe is large and medieval, decorated with blood
"there are so many variables" she thinks

she’s watching his finger move around the picture
vague and yet certain.  she wants to go now.
she says  "I don’t believe in God".   he leaps to predict
"but you feel something bigger, yes?  something divine?"
she says  "I believe in the Earth"  he nods eagerly 
as though she has made sense at last

but she’s thinking about dinner. he goes on talking
while in her mind x and y broil with the broccoli
and God is the cloud that vanishes from the open oven.
she thanks him for the recipe book
and they part, each with their minds firmer than before 

what you do to one side, you must do to the other

12 thoughts on “God & Algebra

  1. there are so many good lines here, including ‘his smile is a fireplace of living coals’ but there is one I want to understand: ‘God is the cloud that vanishes from the open oven’; the images in the third stanza are searing; this is such a different take — more elaborate, teased out — than my ‘Ruffians’; but in the end they still have their minds made up, ‘firmer than before’

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Sounds like Arjuna sitting in his chariot between two armies, trying to make sense of what Krishna’s trying to tell him. (Sorry; I’m currently re-reading the Bhagavad Gita).

    Liked by 1 person

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