Say Love Say God

I liked the idea of an impossible love.

I was told a love so different can’t
make children with souls
worth praying for. But those stories
in the Bible and the Qur’an,
love, we knew what they meant.
When you said sin, love, you did not
mean my legs, or the way
you were already inside me.
When you said sin, you meant
how one forgets. Do you remember
how we slept naked? You were there.

I believed love is immortal, irrational,
and sometimes, tired. The sun, it seems, worships only
the bodies of the young. When I say old,
I mean how far we’ve traveled, love, how we go
back. When I walk new cities, I always
think of you, love. I tell you, Look –
lives upon lives upon lives.
Sometimes heaven is when I’m away from you, love.
Sometimes heaven is only the two of us. I know you
understand. Only petty loves want to be worshipped.

I liked the idea of an impossible god.
I was told a god so different can’t
make children with souls
worth praying for. But those stories
in the Bible and the Qur’an,
god, we knew what they meant.
When you said sin, god, you did not
mean my legs, or the way
you were already inside me.
When you said sin, you meant
how one forgets. Do you remember
how we slept naked? You were there.

I believed god is immortal, irrational,
and sometimes, tired. The sun, it seems, worships only
the bodies of the young. When I say old,
I mean how far we’ve traveled, god, how we go
back. When I walk new cities, I always
think of you, god. I tell you, Look –
lives upon lives upon lives.
Sometimes heaven is when I’m away from you, god.
Sometimes heaven is only the two of us. I know you
understand. Only petty gods want to be worshipped.

Zeina Hashem Beck is a Lebanese poet. Most recently, she’s published two chapbooks: 3arabi Song, winner of the 2016 Rattle Chapbook Prize, and There Was and How Much There Was, a 2016 Laureate’s Choice, selected by Carol Ann Duffy.