The God Who Loves You | Carl Dennis

I was privileged to go and share some stuff at Si Johnston’s group here on the north coast of NI tonight, and one of the people there, who’d I spent some time with at the Soliton Sessions here last February, read a fantastic poem by the Pulitzer prize-winning poet Carl Dennis, which I just had to post. Click for the whole thing…

The God Who Loves You

It must be troubling for the god who loves you

To ponder how much happier you’d be today

Had you been able to glimpse your many futures.

It must be painful for him to watch you on Friday evenings

Driving home from the office, content with your week—

Three fine houses sold to deserving families—

Knowing as he does exactly what would have happened

Had you gone to your second choice for college,

Knowing the roommate you’d have been allotted

Whose ardent opinions on painting and music

Would have kindled in you a lifelong passion.

A life thirty points above the life you’re living

On any scale of satisfaction. And every point

A thorn in the side of the god who loves you.

You don’t want that, a large-souled man like you

Who tries to withhold from your wife the day’s disappointments

So she can save her empathy for the children.

And would you want this god to compare your wife

With the woman you were destined to meet on the other campus?

It hurts you to think of him ranking the conversation

You’d have enjoyed over there higher in insight

Than the conversation you’re used to.

And think how this loving god would feel

Knowing that the man next in line for your wife

Would have pleased her more than you ever will

Even on your best days, when you really try.

Can you sleep at night believing a god like that

Is pacing his cloudy bedroom, harassed by alternatives

You’re spared by ignorance? The difference between what is

And what could have been will remain alive for him

Even after you cease existing, after you catch a chill

Running out in the snow for the morning paper,

Losing eleven years that the god who loves you

Will feel compelled to imagine scene by scene

Unless you come to the rescue by imagining him

No wiser than you are, no god at all, only a friend

No closer than the actual friend you made at college,

The one you haven’t written in months. Sit down tonight

And write him about the life you can talk about

With a claim to authority, the life you’ve witnessed,

Which for all you know is the life you’ve chosen.


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3 responses to “The God Who Loves You | Carl Dennis”

  1. I recently heard this on the podcast of NPR’s ‘The Writer’s Almanac’. Garrison Keillor’s reading of it was gorgeous and unnerving and inviting.

  2. Sounds familiar from where my source got it.
    You’re right – it’s very unnerving.

  3. I would alternatively title this poem: “Diary of a Mid-life Crisis.”