“God is complicated.” Such a simple but arresting notion I came across in a marvelous young poet named K. A. Hays. The appeal of the poem is to the Apocalypse (“Dear Apocalypse”, it’s called), and it says: fine! Lay waste everything, go ahead, don’t hold back! But don’t think we’re worse than any of those guys back then – you could just as well have come a thousand years ago to punish us for . . . whatever. And then it goes on to talk about God, and urges forgiveness! For God! Be kind, the poem says, because, like anyone else, God’s complicated.

Of course! Why should God be any less complicated than you or me? After all, we’re mere knock-offs, right? Made in the image and all that, but still. We imagine God to be some essence of pure goodness but, my goodness, why would that be the case? We long for that because we know ourselves (when we know ourselves) to be roiling mixtures of good and evil, deep compassion and petty hatreds, earth-shaking insights and dumb-bunny moves. It would be nice to think there’s a maker out there, a mover and a shaker that has a purity we clearly don’t possess.

But, no! God is complicated too, and needs to be excused for His (Her?) dumb-bunny moves. Maybe, if we can learn to forgive God for all the manifest evil in the world, we can find it in our hearts to radiate a little more compassion towards our fellow humans. Or maybe not. I doubt that God is holding his breath. Only The Apocalypse knows for sure.

Meanwhile, check out K. A. Hays’ fine poetry, to be found in the latest issue of the Missouri Review. She apparently has a manuscript called The Labor of Waking, that I hope will be out soon. I’ve no idea what either the K. or the A. stands for, but she writes with control and imagination and – most of all – she moves from a precise description of things in nature to extrapolations on the nature of things.

Wordsworth might see a caterpillar on a leaf. She sees: “A caterpillar works the tomato plants in the field. Come closer. You can see/the white darts of hornet eggs shot into its body. . .” and later, “If I were walking here without a view for detail,/I might say it’s peaceful . . . .”

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