Crack

This image first appeared on Instagram

This poem was first published in Make Your Mark, Issue 7, March 2015

Subsequently published in The Frequency of God, Close-Up Books, December 2017

Would I Become Prometheus?

Written While Watching Notre Dame Burning

 

If I had a time machine

The Notre Dame cathedral in Paris on fire, April 15th, 2019. Photo credit Thierry Mallet AP REX Shutterstock

I could travel to Paris

to just before the fire broke

in Notre Dame,

I’d tell the Parisians

I’d travelled back from the future

to warn them,

and people would know

that a fire was about to start

and they’d be prepared.

 

But then someone would say

“my son died in a car accident last week,

can you take us back

so that I can stop him from going out?”

 

And someone else would say

“my mum died from cancer last year,

can you take us back so that I can

tell her I love her?”

 

Someone would want to go back

to September 10, 2001,

someone would want to kill Hitler,

or warn Abraham Lincoln.

 

And back further;

the Reformation,

the Spanish Inquisition.

 

And all the dead would return

and ask to see their ancestors

and tell me about wars

that they had fought.

 

Someone would want to meet Jesus.

 

How far would I

be asked to go back?

Would I have to invent the wheel,

or demonstrate fire?

Would I become Prometheus?

 

How Am I Supposed to Choose a God?

If I can’t tell the difference

between a hydrangea and an azalea

how am I supposed to choose a God?

 

If I can’t choose between

Blur and Oasis

or which car to drive,

which cigarettes,

bottle of whisky,

am I a cat or dog person,

would I like fries with my order,

would I like to upsize for an extra dollar,

should I carry an umbrella,

should I shift my retirement savings

from conservative to a riskier strategy

if it means I’ll get a better return?

 

How am I supposed to choose a God

if I can’t pick which people I’m meant to decry?

I mean, which gospel should I deny? Which flag should I burn?

Can I imagine no religion and choose the Gospel of John?

How am I supposed to choose a God if I like everyone?

 

The Walls

We wiped down the walls to remove the tobacco shadows

from all the cigarettes you smoked after dinner

when we’d sit around and you’d tell us your stories.

 

We filled in the holes and removed

any impressions of the pictures you’d hung;

the photos of our school days, holidays, birthdays,

the portraits of innocent times,

ignorant of mortality.

 

A coat of paint, a neutral beige,

now muffles all the whispers of the life we had,

back when you’d tuck us in at night

and tell us you loved us.

 

After the sale we’ll divide the proceeds

according to your will

and go on with our own lives,

in our own separate houses.

 


Published in Door=Jar Issue 9, Winter 2019