How to Parse God

by Devon Miller-Duggan

1st: Look up Christology. Learn you are not
An Early Church Father
Or Mother. Learn that Early Church Fathers
Did not include Early Church Mothers in their deliberations,
But did include them in their wars.

Neither God, nor God’s Manifestation in Flesh
Resembles a vending machine along the side of an untraveled road,
Almost covered in kudzu.

Neither resembles a fishing trawler
Stranded in a field of solidago and forest grasses,
With bugs’ chirring the only sound.

Neither reminds you of hills of grey slag
With power lines along their tops like a single line of music
Stretched beyond hearing.

You believe the air tasted of metal when everything began,
And tastes of metal wherever things have ended.
This is not a cave wall covered in pictures of the Real.
Your mind is not the sort to follow kudzu vines of fine distinctions
Between one state of incarnation and another.

2nd: Rejoice that you have not been assigned
The parsing of the 16 names of God God’s child proclaimed,
The hundreds Muhammad’s children created for Creation.
Find humor in the lack of interest the kudzu will show the food
Inside the machine it will cover and consume.
Remember to laugh at the notion
That children might survive nuclear blasts curled fetally beneath their desks.

3rd: Turn to numbers. A funeral only two attend=Ahimsa=avoidance of violence.
Four is the number of quantum
complexities, of directions.
Three is the nature of God, the number of the natures of black holes.
You do not suffer from triskaidekaphobia, having been born on a 13th day.
Contemporary church scholars have determined the Number of the Beast
Is miscalculated as 666. Belphagor’s Prime:

1,000,000,000,000, 066,600,000,000, 000,001, a palindrome—
One, thirteen zeroes followed by the un-Number of the Beast,
Thirteen zeroes, and a trailing 1—impossible to speak for normal tongues,
So maybe the construction of God spoken easily as of the demon Belphagor.
You have left The Cave, and your only prayer is needle and tread,
Stitching as you walk, as you walk.

DEVON MILLER-DUGGAN has published poems in Rattle, Shenandoah, Margie, Christianity and Literature, Gargoyle. She teaches Creative Writing at the University of Delaware. Her books include Pinning the Bird to the Wall (2008), Neither Prayer, Nor Bird (2013), Alphabet Year, (2017).

Photo: “Hellbound Train” by Pat Henson