"The Seminarians Want to Rename God" by Brad Modlin

Brad Modlin

Brad Modlin

Brad Modlin's poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction have appeared in Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, The Florida Review, The Pinch, and River Teeth, among others. His work has been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes. He holds an MFA from Bowling Green and is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Ohio University, where he reads for New Ohio Review. He just finished discussing modern-day panopticons with his students and looks forward to discussing less scary topics next term-Beowulf and Middle English Chaucer.

The Seminarians Want to Rename God

The geese, too, are leaving us.
If we sprint the way home
we can follow their sidewalk
shadows. Over the seams,
the plastic marbles, the neighbor child—
beneath her stub of pink chalk
she's birthed a skeleton
cradling a sickle. And tonight
the dinner meat is bloody
on the plate.

Now that both
our fathers have stopped loving
our mothers, you are afraid
for us, scared of the suitcase
in our bedroom closet.

You demand true predictions,
plans; you want a floor steady
enough to walk on. But outside
the grass is wind-shaken, and all
I can give is a smile, the hope
that the furnace won't break
this month.

And in the upstairs apartment,
the seminarians argue.
They say they want a god
without pronouns, a god
this century has not yet outgrown, a god
we can wear.

And when the midnight
search party steps over the fallen, broken-
necked goose in the yard, knocks
above the theological
shouting, above our dinner table
silence, and shows us her photograph,
we think of her art,
her chalky fingers,
and wonder if she sensed it,
if—folded and serious
by the curb—
she was really a prophet.