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.
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
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
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.
in broad black strokes
he does not move.
It is not easy, she’d confess,
to be my mother’s God.