God & Nothing

Roy Bentley

God and Nothing have a lot in common. You look either one of Them in the eye
for a second and the immediate effect on the human constitution is the same.

—Robert Penn Warren, All the King’s Men

Tonight, silhouetted in the doorway of a double-wide,
God is offering up her hand with a piece of paper in it.

Nothing is someone who asked for her number earlier.
God’s handwriting might as well be runes, but Nothing

taps numbers into a phone, glancing up to give her a look.
God is allowing herself to be seen as a red-haired woman:

a tough-faced stranger Nothing keeps meeting at her door.
Someone waiting for what passes for kindness in the hills.

Nothing has walked home to his trailer, a silver-colored
lunch bucket glossy with star- and billboard-shine. God

wears sweatpants and a t-shirt from Catholic Charities or
Goodwill Industries. She’s more than comfortable in them.

Nothing has a muffin top at his waist, but he doesn’t drink,
meaning God can expect not to be beaten. Not right away.

If you were to look into the eyes of either of them, God or
Nothing, you could expect to have your heart made new;

and if you made love to either, then left to return to your
own trailer, you’d have initiated the story of the world—

which is the story of God and Nothing taking turns
being inordinately interested in what comes next.

Roy Bentley is the author of Walking with Eve in the Loved City, chosen by Billy Collins as a finalist for the Miller Williams prize; Starlight Taxi, winner of the Blue Lynx Poetry Prize; The Trouble with a Short Horse in Montana, chosen by John Gallaher as winner of the White Pine Poetry Prize; as well as My Mother’s Red Ford: New & Selected Poems 1986 – 2020 published by Lost Horse Press. Poems have appeared in Able Muse, The Southern ReviewRattle, ShenandoahNew Ohio ReviewPrairie Schooner, and december among others. His latest is Beautiful Plenty (Main Street Rag Books, 2021). 

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