My Mother’s God

By Geoff Page b. 1940 Geoff Page
My mother’s God
has written the best
of the protestant proverbs:
 
you make the bed
you lie in it;
God helps him
 
who helps himself.
He tends to shy away from churches,
is more to be found in
 
phone calls to daughters
or rain clouds over rusty grass.
The Catholics
 
have got him wrong entirely:
too much waving the arms about,
the incense and caftan, that rainbow light.
 
He’s leaner than that,
lean as a pair of
grocer’s scales,
 
hard as a hammer at cattle sales
the third and final
time of asking.
 
His face is most clear
in a scrubbed wooden table
or deep in the shine of a
 
laminex bench.
He’s also observed at weddings and funerals
by strict invitation, not knowing quite
 
which side to sit on.
His second book, my mother says,
is often now too well received;
 
the first is where the centre is,
tooth for claw and eye for tooth
whoever tried the other cheek?
 
Well, Christ maybe,
but that’s another story.
God, like her, by dint of coursework
 
has a further degree in predestination.
Immortal, omniscient, no doubt of that,
he nevertheless keeps regular hours
 
and wipes his feet clean on the mat,
is not to be seen at three in the morning.
His portrait done in a vigorous charcoal
 
is fixed on the inner
curve of her forehead.
Omnipotent there
 
in broad black strokes
he does not move.
It is not easy, she’d confess,
 
to be my mother’s God.

Geoff Page, “My Mother’s God” from Darker and Lighter, text from Five Islands Press, 2001; audio from Coffee with Miles, Audio CD, 2009: by permission of River Road Press and the poet. Copyright © 2001, 2009 by Geoff Page.

Source: Darker and Lighter (Five Islands Press, 2001)

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Poet Geoff Page b. 1940

POET’S REGION Australia and Pacific

Subjects Family & Ancestors, Christianity, God & the Divine

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Australian poet, novelist, editor, and biographer Geoff Page was born in Grafton, on the north coast of New South Wales, and educated at the University of New England. His poems frequently make use of rhyme and meter as they explore faith and cultural memory. Page is the author of more than a dozen poetry collections, including Small Town Memorials (1975), Selected Poems (1991), and Seriatim (2007). He is the author of the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Christianity, God & the Divine

POET’S REGION Australia and Pacific

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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