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SHJ Issue 16
Spring 2017

Questions for God

by Oriana Ivy

I love deathbed stories.
Heisenberg allegedly said:
“I’m planning to pose
two questions to God:

why relativity, and why
chaos. I suspect
He’ll be able to answer
the first one.”

Most people aren’t that deep.
Oblivious to the red shift
of the galaxies, or how string theory
tunes the cosmic harp,

they drone like a blind chorus:
“Why me? Why me?
Why wasn’t I born rich?
Why hasn’t my Prince come?”

Every day I prepare
a new question to pose to God,
though it has already been asked
a trillion trillion times, and in vain—

All my life I have sought
a science-compatible God,
friendly and kidding around,
like scientists at a gerontology convention.

But the I-Am-That-I-Am
will speak to me neither
from a burning bush,
nor from the serpent space-time

curving on itself. In the doorway
of a nebula, unlike Heisenberg,
I already suspect
God will have my mother’s

face, and will greet me
in her usual way:
“Take off that awful blouse at once,
and put on something pretty.”


—Selected for Honorable Mention in the competition for the Steve Kowit Poetry Prize 2016, and first published in the San Diego Poetry Annual 2016-17 (Garden Oak Press, February 2017); appears here with permissions from both poet and publisher.


SHJ Issue 16
Spring 2017

Oriana Ivy

was born in Poland and came to the United States when she was seventeen. She is a widely published poet and translator, and the author of three prize-winning chapbooks. Her poems, essays, book reviews, and translations from modern Polish poetry have been published in Poetry, Ploughshares, Best American Poetry, New Letters, American Poetry Review, The Iowa Review, Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, Black Warrior, Spoon River Review, Southern Poetry Review, and many other magazines and anthologies. A former journalist and community college instructor, she lives in San Diego, where she teaches poetry workshops, leads an online poetry salon, and writes a poetry and culture blog.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury