I made a list of things I haveLinda Pastan
to remember and a list
of things I want to forget,
but I see they are the same list
by Linda Pastan
With the seal of science
on your forehead,
like the old Good Housekeeping
Seal of Approval,
I believe what you tell me
about cells and molecules,
though I can’t see them.
And though the language you speak
is full of numbers and symbols
I’ll never understand;
though your tie is askew
and your hair unruly, still I believe
what you say about the size of the universe,
which is either expanding or contracting,
I’ve forgotten which already.
So if tomorrow you tell me
you made a small miscalculation,
that God indeed created the world
in 6 short days, then rested on the 7th,
that it was Eve who landed us
in all this trouble, I would believe you.
I would believe you
as I’ve always done before.
The God Who Loves You
By Carl Dennis
It must be troubling for the god who loves you
To ponder how much happier you’d be today
Had you been able to glimpse your many futures.
It must be painful for him to watch you on Friday evenings
Driving home from the office, content with your week—
Three fine houses sold to deserving families—
Knowing as he does exactly what would have happened
Had you gone to your second choice for college,
Knowing the roommate you’d have been allotted
Whose ardent opinions on painting and music
Would have kindled in you a lifelong passion.
A life thirty points above the life you’re living
On any scale of satisfaction. And every point
A thorn in the side of the god who loves you.
You don’t want that, a large-souled man like you
Who tries to withhold from your wife the day’s disappointments
So she can save her empathy for the children.
And would you want this god to compare your wife
With the woman you were destined to meet on the other campus?
It hurts you to think of him ranking the conversation
You’d have enjoyed over there higher in insight
Than the conversation you’re used to.
And think how this loving god would feel
Knowing that the man next in line for your wife
Would have pleased her more than you ever will
Even on your best days, when you really try.
Can you sleep at night believing a god like that
Is pacing his cloudy bedroom, harassed by alternatives
You’re spared by ignorance? The difference between what is
And what could have been will remain alive for him
Even after you cease existing, after you catch a chill
Running out in the snow for the morning paper,
Losing eleven years that the god who loves you
Will feel compelled to imagine scene by scene
Unless you come to the rescue by imagining him
No wiser than you are, no god at all, only a friend
No closer than the actual friend you made at college,
The one you haven’t written in months. Sit down tonight
And write him about the life you can talk about
With a claim to authority, the life you’ve witnessed,
Which for all you know is the life you’ve chosen.