Talking to God

My sister's boyfriend swears
you keep tabs on all of us. He means
whether we're good or bad, but I imagine
a bar bill run up for regulars, who knows
when or how much we'll have to pay.
I see you behind a brass counter
wiping up beer and fingerprints, rinsing
glasses over and over. Always the same
bad jokes. Mostly you pretend
to listen, your head cocked as if straining
toward every hoarse request. You pour
whatever you want and the desperate ones,
thirsty for anything, drink it.

But maybe my sister is right,
that you don't count wrongs and kindnesses
on a score card, adding or subtracting
in blessed arithmetic. She trusts
you were human once, though she's less certain
about the details: the cross, the cave,
the unreasonable rising. Still, her faith is
a well she can draw from. Where did she get
the pulley and the rope?

Me, I don't know what to think.
I try to believe in spirit
held in everything from blades of grass
to Saturn's rings, but such ordinary
holiness is really more than I am
willing to bear. Give me time.
Faith may be something else I can grow
into, like my sister's hand-me-downs.
Even when we were children I had to wait
years until what I wanted would fit.


Poems by Melody Lacina:

Looking for Comet Hyakutake
On Seeing a Nude Self-Portrait of Imogen Cunningham

On the Telephone
What My Friend Says When She Gives Me a Persimmon

Coming Down Mount Etna
The Rock Above Cefalu
What I Believe In
Talking To God
After I Die

TIMES TEN: An Anthology of Northern California Poets