Not much evidence, on a walk through town,
That the god in whose image we've been created
Is passionate about justice, not when compared
To the evidence of his love for grass.
Just look at the these lawns,
How cared for they are, how cherished,
The meager ones as well as the grand.

Maybe the planet was once all grass,
A grass-bound weekend retreat for a god
Who refreshed himself, after weekday duties,
With leisurely walks over springy greensward,
With mowing, edging, and watering,
Like any grass-lover in the neighborhood.

A planet all for himself at first, though later,
After his schedule at work became so crowded
That he rarely managed to get away,
He thought of adding fauna to keep the blades
From growing so thick they choked themselves.
Hence the drilling and nibbling insects,
Hence the chomping and browsing quadrupeds.

And when the crowds of grass-eaters grew so great
That the fields were overgrazed, the roots endangered,
He had to create some eaters of meat as well.
And when the carnivores threatened to thin the flocks
To nothing, he thought us up, us hunters and herders
With a passion for grass the equal of his.

That was the plan, though he must have been vexed
By the struggles for land that soon followed.
He must have been hurt when the landless clustered in cities
And later when cities gradually muscled outward
With brick and blacktop into glade and meadow.
What a shock for him when he found,
At the edge of the woods, his favorite trail
Blocked by the parking lot of another church
Built in his honor, another mosque or synagogue.

It shouldn't be any surprise that his visits
Ceased long ago, that now when he gives a report
To the gods of other realms met in assembly,
He lists our planet as one of the few
Failed experiments in his dominions.

Your mistake, says one of the other delegates,
Was supposing a god could do his job
Responsibly in a five-day work week.
Your mistake, says another, was thinking yourself
So needed at work that you skimped on the pleasure
Of witnessing how the grass was getting on.

--- From Unknown Friends
Carl Dennis
©2007 Penguin Books
Go to a review of the
from which this poem is taken

Send us e-mail


Go Home

Go to the most recent RALPH