Size Matters

In my early thirties, in the months after my divorce, while living in a tiny studio apartment in San Rafael, I finally started writing about my loss of faith, those experiences as a believer that defined a large part of who I was for so long, and the painful break that distanced me from that life. There in that apartment, healing emotionally in so many ways, I knew it was time to face, head on, some of those other feelings I’d been nervous about facing down. One of my very first efforts in that regard was this poem. I discovered it recently. There was at time when I’d thought I might use it in ‘Wretch Like Me,’ might recite it or weave it into the narrative. I never did. But I think you will see that much of its tone is reflected in what became the script of ‘Wretch.’


God was so big
when I was a boy,
too big to fit
in my little boy’s life. But
I liked him,
all gigantic like that.
Little boys
need big Gods.

God got smaller
as I grew up. For a time
he was just
my size. So we wrestled
all the time,
every Sunday.
But neither of us ever won.
And I liked that too. Sometimes
the match was so close,
so even, God and I forgot who
was who.
The first time I beat God
it broke my heart,
broke it into pieces.
Who wants a God
you can beat by

He kept getting smaller,
and I kept growing
older, and now I’m not
very old, but he’s so damn
small. And he keeps getting smaller.

Now I keep losing him.
I lose God
almost every day.
I can;t put him anywhere,
or he rolls off again,
and ends up under the rug
or something.
I don;t know where to put him,
where he won’t get lost. Maybe
I can buy a real nice jar.

I was told by a man
I met at my door,
that God was kept safest
when locked in one’s heart.
So I tried it.
But either these cracks in my heart
are too big for God, or He’s
gotten even smaller,
because I still keep losing him.

It happened again this morning.
I finally found him, caught
in a cobweb
next to the stove.
I washed him off, checked
for damages, and put him back,
back in my heart.
But the cracks, I think, are bigger than before
and God looks a tiny bit smaller.
Oops. Look at that.
I’ve lost him again.



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