The first time I read this poem, I resonated with every word, every thought, every cynical, angry scream behind the carefully constructed beauty of it. And this was only a few months ago. But now, as I read this, I do not resonate with it quite so much. My own anger has lessened, my own cynicism reduced. I still find it overwhelmingly beautiful and soul-wrenching, but now, for a different reason. I still agree with his thoughts on the beauty of nature, and of the sentiment that my formerly easy God is gone, but I have not reached his same conclusion that insists that I have no God. Yes, my easy God is gone, but my God himself is not.
My Easy God Is Gone
I have lost my easy God—the one whose name I knew since childhood.
I knew his temper, his sullen outrage, his ritual forgiveness.
I knew the strength of his arm, the sound of his insistent voice.
His beard bristling, his lips full and red with moisture at the moustache,
His eyes clear and piercing, too blue to understand all,
His face to unwrinkled to feel my child’s pain.
He was a good God—so he told me—a long suffering and manageable one.
I knelt at his feet and kissed them, I felt the smooth countenance of his forgiveness.
I never told him how he frightened me, How he followed me as a child
When I played with friends or begged for candy on Halloween.
He was a predictable God, I was the unpredictable one.
He was unchanging, omnipotent, all-seeing, I was volatile and helpless.
He taught me to thank him for the concern which gave me no chance to breathe,
For the love which demanded only love in return—and obedience.
He made pain sensible and patience possible and the future foreseeable.
He, the mysterious, took all mystery away, corroded my imagination,
Controlled the stars and would not let them speak for themselves.
Now he haunts me seldom: some fierce umbilical is broken,
I live with my own fragile hopes and sudden rising despair.
Now I do not weep for my sins; I have learned to love them
And to know that they are the wounds that make love real.
His face illudes me; his voice, with all its pity, does not ring in my ear.
His maxims memorized in boyhood do not make fruitless and pointless my experience.
I walk alone, but not so terrified as when he held my hand.
I do not splash in the blood of his son nor hear the crunch of nails or thorns piercing protesting flesh.
I am a boy again—I whose boyhood was turned to manhood in a brutal myth.
Now wine is only wine with drops that do not taste of blood.
The bread I eat has too much pride for transubstantiation, I, too—and together the bread and I embrace,
Each grateful to be what we are, each loving from our own reality.
Now the bread is warm in my mouth and I am warm in its mouth as well.
Now my easy God is gone—he knew too much to be real,
He talked too much to listen, he knew my words before I spoke.
But I knew his answers as well—computerized and turned to dogma
His stamp was on my soul, his law locked cross-like on my heart,
His imperatives tatooed on my breast, his aloofness canonized in ritual.
Now he is gone—my easy, stuffy God—God, the father-master, the mother-whiner, the
Dull, whoring God who offered love bought by an infant’s fear.
Now the world is mine with all its pain and warmth, with its every color and sound;
The setting sun is my priest with the ocean for its altar.
The rising sun redeems me with the rolling waves warmed in its arms.
A dog barks and I weep to be alive, a cat studies me and my joy is boundless.
I lie on the grass and boy-like, search the sky. The clouds do not turn to angels, the winds do not whisper of heaven or hell.
Perhaps I have no Go—what does it matter? I have beauty and joy and transcending loneliness,
I have the beginning of love—as beautiful as it is feeble—as free as it is human.
I have the mountains that whisper secrets held before men could speak,
I have the ocean that belches life on the beach and caresses it in the sand.
I have a friend who smiles he sees me, who weeps when he hears my pain,
I have a future full of surprises, a present full of wonder.
I have no past—the steps have disappeared the wind has blown them away.
I stand in the Heavens and on earth, I feel the breeze in my hair.
I can drink to the North Star and shout on a bar stool,
I can feel the teeth of a hangover, the joy of laziness,
The flush of my own rudeness, the surge of my own ineptitude.
And I can know my own gentleness as well, my wonder, my nobility.
I sense the call of creation, I feel its swelling in my hands.
I can lust and love, eat and drink, sleep and rise,
But my easy God is gone—and in his stead The mystery of loneliness and love!