I must become small and hide where he cannot reach.
I must become dull and heavy as an iron pot.
I must be tireless as rust and bold as roots
growing through the locks on doors
and crumbling the conderblocks
of the foundations of his everlasting throne.
I must be strange as pity so he’ll believe me.
I must be terrible and brush my hair
so that he finds me attractive.
Perhaps if I invoke Clare, the patron saint of television.
Perhaps if I become the images
passing through the cells of a woman’s brain.
I must become very large and block his sight.
I must be sharp and impetuous as knives.
I must insert myself into the bark of his apple trees,
and cleave the bones of his cows. I must be the marrow
that he drinks into his cloud-wet body.
I must be careful and laugh when he laughs.
I must turn down the covers and guide him in.
I must fashion his children out of playdough, blue, pink, green.
I must pull them from between my legs
and set them before the television.
I must hide my memory in a mustard grain
so that he’ll search for it over time until time is gone.
I must lose myself in the world’s regard and disparagement.
I must remain this person and be no trouble.
None at all. So he’ll forget.
I’ll collect dust out of reach,
a single dish from a set, a flower made of felt,
a tablet the wrong shape to choke on.
I must become essential and file everything
under my own system,
so we can lose him and his proofs and adherents.
I must be a doubter in a city of belief
that hails his signs (the great footprints
long as limousines, the rough print on the wall).
On the pavement where his house begins
fainting women kneel. I’m not among them
although they polish the brass tongues of his lions
with their own tongues
and taste the everlasting life.
Louise Erdrich, 1954–
“Fooling God” from Upholding Mystery: An Anthology of Contemporary Christian Poetry
© 1997 by Louise Erdrich
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