Excerpts for Companion for Owls : Being the Commonplace Book of D. Boone, Long Hunter, Back Woodsman, &c.


On God

Is there a god of the gulf between a man
and a horse? A god who hovers above the trench
of difference? Not a god who makes us notice;
but a god who rakes his hand through the air and makes
a space neither can enter. What about
a god of animal innards? Some god
whose sole creation cleans the blood of an elk?
Perhaps there's a god of petty disaster
who breaks wagon wheels and paints clouds across
an old man's eyes. Consider the gods of flint
and primer who work side by side with the gods
of spark and steel; then there's the god of aim
and the god of near death-a god commonly praised.
Consider a god of small spaces, a fat
man's misery god, who lives in the shadow
between two rocks and sleeps on moss, content
with the smallness of his task; the god who bends
rivers, the god who flecks the breast of a hawk,
the god who plunders saltworks. I once thought
one god looked over my shoulder and measured
my steps, but now I believe that god is outnumbered
and I am surrounded by countless naked gods,
like spores or dust or birds or trees on fire,
the song, the grit, the mean seed of nakedness.


Copyright © 2004 by Maurice Manning

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.
On God

Is there a god of the gulf between a man
and a horse? A god who hovers above the trench
of difference? Not a god who makes us notice;
but a god who rakes his hand through the air and makes
a space neither can enter. What about
a god of animal innards? Some god
whose sole creation cleans the blood of an elk?
Perhaps there's a god of petty disaster
who breaks wagon wheels and paints clouds across
an old man's eyes. Consider the gods of flint
and primer who work side by side with the gods
of spark and steel; then there's the god of aim
and the god of near death-a god commonly praised.
Consider a god of small spaces, a fat
man's misery god, who lives in the shadow
between two rocks and sleeps on moss, content
with the smallness of his task; the god who bends
rivers, the god who flecks the breast of a hawk,
the god who plunders saltworks. I once thought
one god looked over my shoulder and measured
my steps, but now I believe that god is outnumbered
and I am surrounded by countless naked gods,
like spores or dust or birds or trees on fire,
the song, the grit, the mean seed of nakedness.


Copyright © 2004 by Maurice Manning

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.


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