What if the angels,
with their conch-shaped trumpets,
their dainty bows and arrows,
don’t really give a shit about us?
What if they gather in heavenly circles
at the mouth of the clouds
to stare down on field mice,
on ferrets, on millipedes?
We think angels take human shape
because our ancestors painted them that way,
but those were the same ancestors
who toiled through the Dark Ages,
who took a long damn time to discern
that the heart wasn’t the seat of intelligence.
I’d say they suffered at times
from a lack of imagination.
Sure, they fashioned rocks into the tips of spears,
sure, they managed some empires,
and sure, they figured out
which knotweeds would dye the wool,
which berries would pigment the oils.
Make, if you want, a case for human ingenuity,
but I vote against us
when it comes to knowledge of the Divine.
In Chronicles, God sends an angel
to slaughter the Assyrian army.
In Numbers, he opens chasms
to swallow up the defiant,
he burns with holy fire those gathered in worship,
he sets a plague on fourteen thousand.
Imagine writing those words, thinking,
“Yes, this is the God who loves me.”
I don’t think He much cares about us.
I think the next tornado, the next tsunami,
the next antibiotic-resistant strain
will be whimsy and afterthought.
I think he’s the God of Rats,
the God of Ticks, surrounded
in heaven by legions of slim-thoraxed angels
flapping swallowtail wings, spitting venom
into each others’ many-prismed eyes.
I think He’s created the virus in his own image,
and He loves the virus enough
to create an endlessly adaptable food source for it
that also serves as means of conveyance.