Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


At The Dinner Table With God And My Father

What happens when God sits down for dinner?
Do you set the table for two, three or four?
What happens if you only have a loaf of bread
and a one-pound block of butter,
do you ask him to perform a miracle?

What do you do when God puts his hands on the table,
fingers flay, bull and lamb belly up, pink-red palms
asking for forgiveness?

What happens to forgiveness when God is your father
and you discover he’s just a man with two hands—
can a bull and a lamb be still on the tines of a fork?
Or are they votive candles burning on the altar of your plate?
Those paraffin hands, waxwing feathers in prayer.
How else can hope look
if not like a spoon to your lips, a sparrow
with new wings
beating air from the comfort of its perch?
This is how we move forward,
             you unclasp your hands and surrender flight
                          before you pick up the butter knife.

Credit


Copyright © 2014 b: william bearheart. This poem originally appeared in Tupelo Quarterly. Reprinted with the permission of Carrie Bearheart.

Author


b: william bearhart

b: william bearhart is a direct descendent of the St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin. A graduate of the Lo-Rez MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, bearhart’s work appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through (W. W. Norton, 2020).

Date Published: 2014-07-14

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/dinner-table-god-and-my-father