Poetry  June 2010 | issue 414

What About God

by Alison Luterman

Alison Luterman has written an intimate little musical comedy about kidney transplantation titled The Chain. She and its composer, Loren Linnard, are seeking a producer. She lives in Oakland, California.

alisonluterman.net

The rabbi is coming to talk about the wedding. We lay out cookies, tamari almonds, stuffed grape leaves, hummus, crackers, and strips of sweet red peppers. I hide the magazines, pick up the clutter. The rabbi wouldn’t have noticed anyway. He is wearing a soft knit cap and looks like a poli-sci professor. He asks for an electrical outlet for his laptop, takes 2 percent milk in his tea, and tells us he won’t sign the certificates of straight couples until he can do the same for his gay congregants. Fine. Christopher and I sit on the sofa holding hands, and he asks us, in the most neutral way possible, about God. What do we believe?

His tone of voice, his face, his manner: all suggest it would be possible for us to say anything. It would be ok if one of us answered, “Blue,” and the other one said, “I saw God once in the Greyhound bus station in Chicago, bumming cigarettes off the loiterers who were stranded there, but I haven’t seen her since.” It would be ok to say, “God is dead. I sent flowers to the funeral,” or, “I danced on his grave.”

Christopher says, “God is beyond our knowing.”

I want to say, God is a cloud. Cloud of my ignorance. Humming and buzzing, like a swarm of bees or gnats — but it sounds too whimsical and fruity, so I say my conception of God has changed, is changing, from year to year.

The rabbi raises a mild-mannered eyebrow. “Really? That’s very stable of you. My concept of God changes from hour to hour, like the weather.”

Aha! I think, sitting back. I was right. A cloud.