Humanist Voices in Verse: “The Laughter of God”

This week’s poem is by Oriana Ivy.

Author of three prize-winning chapbooks, Ivy is a widely published poet and translator. Her work has appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, Best American Poetry, The Iowa Review, Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, Southern Poetry Review, and many other magazines and anthologies.

A former journalist and community college instructor, she leads an online poetry salon and writes a poetry and culture blog.

The Laughter of God

But the woman was growing restless.
You see, there was no
narrative. No verbs. Paradise

is all description. No subjunctive
sighs or regrets,
no frolicking future tense.

When time like a ruddy fruit
hung from the branches of the galaxy,
I told the woman the truth

with the two-way tongue of a snake.
All those fluent ribs,
opalescent scales — it was Me

undulating in the subtle serpent.
Oh let them be as gods!
I laughed for joy when I saw

the woman bite into the tart flesh.
The multitudes of Me whirled
a wild polka through the nebulas:

At last! At last!
I’ve managed to create
a being that could disobey Me.

Enough hosannas of flowers,
the beaky orange birds.
I did not curse my brave

children, nor did I strew
thistles before them in their path.
I blessed them. To the woman

I said, “You are the Tree of Life.”
To the man, “Love her —
she’ll be your strength.”

Yes I knew
suffering would happen.
Yes, because I love stories.