The God-Haunted

by JD Hughes


Truth is like a baobab tree; one person’s arms cannot embrace it.
                                                                               ─African proverb

In the year after the towers fell, I envisioned the Lord seated upon his throne
       on an African horizon.

Spine straight, hands draped over the throne’s stone arms, he sat poised
       on the world’s edge—a 60-watt bulb the height of a mountain—
       as my mind worked like an acorn to resorb a thousand-year-old oak.

No robe filled the savannah speckled with granite boulders and thorn scrubs,
       but two baobabs raised bare, crooked limbs like wings
       unable to cover their turgid bodies.

Two myths: the devil plucked the baobab,
       thrust it roots up, crown in the ground without reason;
       the baobab, envious of the palm’s height, the fire tree’s red flower,
       the fig’s fruit, asked God for all three. God responded like the devil,
       only with reasons.

In existence, God is amputation. We come to live with towering pains
       of something that was, but isn’t. We come to live severed
       of fingers to enlace, hands to take, arms to interlock.