The God Who Loves You

By Carl Dennis b. 1939 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.

Carl Dennis, “The God Who Loves You” from Practical Gods. Copyright © 2001 by Carl Dennis. Reprinted with the permission of Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. For online information about other Penguin Group (USA) books and authors, see www.penguin.com.

Source: New and Selected Poems, 1974-2004 (Penguin Books, 2004)

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Poet Carl Dennis b. 1939

Subjects Home Life, Religion, Life Choices, Relationships

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Carl  Dennis

Biography

Carl Dennis was born in 1939 in St. Louis, Missouri. He earned a BA from the University of Minnesota and a PhD from the University of California-Berkeley. He has taught at the State University of New York-Buffalo since 1966, where he is both a professor of English and writer in residence. Dennis has published numerous books of poetry, including House of My Own (1974), The Outskirts of Troy (1988), Meetings with Time (1992), . . .

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SUBJECT Home Life, Religion, Life Choices, Relationships

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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