These poems can be found in Rival Gardens: New and Selected Poems
Someone had to do the dirty work,
Spading the garden, moving mountains,
Keeping the darkness out of the light,
and she took every imperfection personally.
Mr. Big Ideas, sure,
But someone had to run the numbers.
Then talk about babies: he never imagined
That was part of his charm, of course,
his frank amazement at consequences.
The pretty songs he gave to finches:
those spoke to his
innocence, his inability to regard
every moment as fresh. “Let’s give them
free will and see what happens,”
ever the optimist.”
Other days God seemed severe,
but was always hardest on himself.
Curious, he watched Mrs. God,
the way she distanced herself
from disasters. Especially the one ones
he himself unintentionally set in motion.
All God asked for was eternal work.
Luckily something was always broken.
A virus began to kill all its hosts,
Or claws needed sharpening, and afterwards
He had to make them retractable.
Weather was a challenge,
finicky, like those old carburetors.
But gravity turned out perfectly:
hummingbirds could fly, but people
didn’t float around, and two legs worked fine.
Mrs. God’s radiant smile, yes he gave that
to the sun, and all the stars, and then to Eve.
Day of Rest
The good Lord had primer on his hands,
but paint could wait till Monday,
Mrs. God assured him, seeing how tired he was.
He said, “You should talk. You’re still working.”
It’s true. She was wearing her garden gloves
and pants with muddy knees.
“Well, Eden’s almost done for the season.
Bare ruined choirs in the arbor,
where late we walked.”
“Choirs,” he mused. “Is that a new word?”
She smiled. “How do you think
we should spell it?”
From a distance Earth was turning
into a masterpiece. God pondered a second
sun, so there’d never be a dark side.
“No.” she reflected. “One noon is plenty,
and see how rich the blues are as light fades.”
“Perhaps a moon then,
just a little one.” And that
bit of tinkering was all they did
for the rest of the day.
“I should have stepped in,”
God said, “when they began to barter
figs for sharpened stones.”
“Don’t blame yourself.”
Mrs. God took the Lord’s hand.
“People are still basically good.”
They looked down
as a cluster of speculators
began to short the new armistice.
“You gave them manna.
That was brilliant.” She remembered
the day people realized this heavenly bounty
could not be seized, hoarded,
and monetized. From a distance
she had watched the most ambitious
struggle beneath insane burdens,
only to find swarming maggots the next
morning, their inventory spoiled.
One by one they seemed to catch on.
But eventually the very same people
invented hedge funds.
“Maybe we can learn something
from them,” Mrs. God suggested,
“and just stop caring.”
After God created love he felt
himself swooning. “What is this?”
he cried out to Mrs. God.
“What have I done?
Is it a kind of music?”
“It bears a strong resemblance,”
she said softly, watching the warm sea
begin to rise and fall, as though longing for the moon.
“Take slow deep breaths,” she advised,
“and it will pass.”
But it didn’t. All day God wandered
in Eden, on the verge of weeping.
The tree of knowledge of good and evil
was in full bloom. He’d made it
self-pollinating, but now he changed
his mind and decided that to fruit,
a second tree must be planted nearby.
“Close, but not too close,”
Mrs. God, the horticulturalist, advised.
“The bees will find it.”
Another evening, glorious among the clouds.
She was humming, mending something,
when God touched her shoulder,
“Yes,” she said, smiling. “Yes,
it was a good day.