To an Unknown God

“The young man who rings the bell at the brothel is unconsciously looking for God.”–Bruce Marshall, 1945

I found an altar with this inscription:
“To an unknown god”.
Blindly, I gave the idol my veneration–
Knelt, bowed, and kissed the blessed feet.
The object of my worship, long sought:
Here in hand, lying next to me in bed.

I presented my sweet sacrifices in solemn adoration;
Approvingly were they accepted,
And life saw me blessed:
Rain fell to soften the earth for tilling,
While the sun and other heavenly bodies gave warmth.

Standing atop Mars’ hill I gazed out upon the city.
The temple here, built with my hands
In precious gold and silver, and set with stones:
A dark room, four bedposts, and an empty bottle of wine.
Here, I offered my worship to the divine.

No one taught me this reverence of heart;
This passion play was written in my own voice–
Soft words of love, dripping with care and affection,
For a lover and a goddess, and another, and another,
Each unparalleled in their wisdom and beauty and glory.

Lips that should have preserved knowledge did otherwise–
Instead giving favor to ignorance and bliss,
Drinking from sweetened wells and honeyed lips.
How bitter was the taste in the end,
Though I was spared the wormwood’s full effect.

Listen, you men of Athens, you fellow disciples,
You who seek–but do not find–love:
These falsities, si deus si dea, are barren–
Unknown, unknowing, unknowable.
Return to the God of your youth;
Knock, and find a truer love than you’ve known.

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