3-26-13 The prompt: Use this poem –
Ode to the God of Atheists by Ellen Bass
The god of atheists won’t burn you at the stake
or pry off your fingernails. Nor will it make you
bow or beg, rake your skin with thorns,
or buy gold leaf and stained-glass windows.
It won’t insist you fast or twist
the shape of your sexual hunger.
There are no wars fought for it, no women stoned for it.
You don’t have to veil your face for it
or bloody your knees.
You don’t have to sing.
The hammer was in full swing, heading for the chisel, when the lightning flash pulled my attention away for just a second. “Goddamn it!” I cried, leaping away from the stone and wrapping my hand in my gut. I was bent over in agony, looking as though I was punching myself in the stomach, when the thunder arrived. Through the pain, I heard, clear as a bell, an invisibly spoken “NO.”
That one word had absolutely no power to make my busted hand feel any better. Through the tears, I looked up toward the door, expecting to see some errant friend who had stopped by just in time to see me make a fool out of myself. “Good,” I thought, “they can drive me to the hospital.” I wiped my eyes and looked, but I was alone, me and my busted sculpture and my hand that would soon look like a balloon. I looked around the room. It had sounded so real, but perhaps it was a pain-induced hallucination.
I turned back to the stone, and swiped a lop-sided kick at it. “THAT WON’T HELP, IF I MAY BE SO BOLD. PERHAPS ICE ON THE HAND WOULD SERVE YOU BETTER.”
What the fuck. I could understand ringing in my ears, but voices? “Who’s that?” I said in a small voice. I wasn’t scared yet, but I could see it approaching in the distance.
“OH, SORRY, LET ME INTRODUCE MYSELF. I’M GOD, AND I WAS JUST A BIT PUT OFF BY YOUR IMPERTINENT DESIRE FOR ME TO DAMN SOMETHING. NOT YOUR PLACE TO TELL ME WHAT TO DO. I WON’T STOP YOU FROM DOING IT YOURSELF, BUT YOU HAVE TO LEAVE ME OUT OF THIS ONE.”
I sat. Right in the middle of the garage floor. I must have finally tripped a breaker, and this was it. “Well,“ I said, “As long as you’re here, could you fix my busted hand? It would save me a trip to the Emergency Room.”
“THAT I CAN DO. HOW’S THAT?”
The hand, throbbing a second ago, was back. Being the quick thinker in the family, I immediately threw out the next wish. “Can I have a million dollars?”
“DON’T BE GREEDY. IF YOU HADN’T SLIPPED AND BUSTED THAT SCULPTURE, YOU WOULD HAVE EVENTUALLY SOLD IT FOR CLOSE TO A MILLION. HOW ABOUT YOU JUST START ANOTHER?”
“Well,” I said to God, “it was your fault for distracting me with that lightning bolt. Don’t you think you owe me something in compensation?”
“THAT WASN’T ME,” said God. “THAT WAS A SPONTANEOUS DISCHARGE OF BUILT UP STATIC ELECTRICITY IN THE ATMOSPHERE. YOU’RE NOT A SCIENTIST, ARE YOU? EVEN KIDS LEARN THAT NOWADAYS IN SCHOOL.”
“So what good are you if you’re not going to keep it up with the miracles?”
“WELL, I DID FIX YOUR HAND, DIDN’T I? I JUST DON’T THINK I SHOULD HOLD STRICT LIABILITY FOR YOUR KLUTZINESS.”
It seems that Einstein was right. God does have a sense of humor.