The Color of God’s Skin

A granddaughter, 
when she was six or seven,
told me that when she was born
she saw God, and that God
has brown skin. 

I believed her, of course,
but now she is ten and insists 
she never said such a thing,
that she did not see God 
and does not know 
the color of God’s skin.

But I now believe we all see God
at the instant we first draw breath,
and that God’s skin is always
the color we each need it to be.

. . . for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. (Luke 18:16)

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (English poet/literary critic/philosopher and theologian, 1772 – 1834) famously defined poetry as “the best words in the best order.” I would add one proviso to Coleridge’s definition. I would say that poetry is the best words – but not too many – in the best order. I am often appalled when I read my early poems, embarrassed by unnecessary words. When I rewrite a poem, I now concentrate on eliminating words. Lots of words. I often eliminate words and phrases I initially thought essential. I try to create a poem which contains only the words which advance the poem in the desired direction. I am not always successful, but I try. US Supreme Court Justic Stewart Potter said that he couldn’t define pornography, but he knew it when he saw it. Perhaps poetry is like that, too. Perhaps poetry, like the color of God’s skin, is what we each need it to be.

God marching across Lake Michigan

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A New Poem Every Monday
(but sometimes life gets in the way)

Joseph Neely, all rights reserved

6 thoughts on “The Color of God’s Skin

  1. This made me think of when my premature twin grandsons were in the NICU. Occasionally when I held the non-dominant one, he and I would make a connection that I sensed was other-worldly. Looking into each other’s eyes, it felt like he knew and understand things beyond…


  2. Love it. I struggle with brevity in letters, holiday notes and job applications!
    It takes discipline and daring to remove the unessential –


  3. Truth. Love what you say about the best words, with less sometimes being more, and in the right order. When I look back at things I’ve written in my journal, I find I could have summarized my thoughts in a paragraph instead of a page. Maybe poetry is my answer!


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