Mrs. God (and other poems)

Mrs. God

When the Father and the Son reach agreement,
she appears—eyes open as a snake 
in dead noon, head grooving side to side. 

The message: There are three of me. 
We are bodies, not men. We dance 
to break each other. 

Suckling at the clouds is not her business.
She is the drool the dog drops. The miracle—
she spills on her shirt. When you hear

the schoolbell and hightops streaking,
she is the open hallway after, the half-cracked 
locker, tipped bin, plastic bottle dribbling.

She speaks through prophets disguised 
as people asleep in the park—her speech,
Should you outlive your life? wanders

to the backyard where devil’s ivy
vines the gutter grates. In rain, she is that
which pours. In drought, she is the river’s

drop to creek. What I’m telling you 
is that she empties herself. She empties herself
until she becomes power.

Mrs. God Goes to Church

People all buttoned up on the kneelers bow
going breadbreadbreadbreadbread
and Mrs. God stands at the back wall

arms over chest like a principal catching kids
red in the act of poorly drawn genitalia
on the girls’ bathroom mirror. “Ave Maria”—

who? “Maria.” Who? Who coughs 
the stars into light? Who is dark matter?
The priest pours wine that tastes like 

courtly gestures. People bow
and the black heart of church lights up.
Who stood the tornado up?

Who brought the sun down?
Rattling legos in a plastic bag
a boy gathers himself under a pew

and does not stand, sit, kneel, and
it is music to Mrs. God’s ears.
You who bow to the flies

kissing the heads of choir members, 
the holy water slurped by a bat, 
the subsequent burp, the robe sweat 

and light up sneakers
ripping through the prayer aisle—
you who start the ceremony with

“I do not know what to do” and end
“I do not know what to do”—please,
you belong to Mrs. God. Come backward.

Mrs. God Exercises the Right to Refuse Deliverance

It all started with yoga women
preaching the emptiness of being

in their thousand-dollar voices
smelling of lavender wearing lavender

Lululemon and Mrs. God stood up
and said, I won’t with them. And

then the computers going Human? 
Human? Prove it! with a mosaic 

of blurry boats and which one is a 
sailboat? Mrs. God is not human 

by way of motorbus. The bicycles 
do not know who she is. Jesus,

she said, this is the last cookie 
I will accept. The final horizon

was a help line oaked with options
all dead-ending in: how 

can I help you? It was here on hold
that Mrs. God said to the Lord, Not 

everyone is coming to the land
of hush. They who will not be led

are plastic streets on which
I will not be driving.

You’re Trying to Grasp Mrs. God 

but she is not graspable. The lucky 
stand under her 

as under a ferris wheel 
whose baskets drip old rain and 
scattered voices that call to you in 

your first language—
you lost it, didn’t you 

when the holes appeared 
in your ears, when you filled them 
with metal, when your whole mouth 
became magnetic.

If only you 
or your mother 
or her mother 

What is there to understand
about a large animal passing in the night?

What is there to know about elk
absorbed in fog, then there, grazing—
so physical you can almost taste
their grass, almost feel the cricket

wings coming apart in your teeth.

She has nothing to do with you.
She could kill you. Without her 
you would die.


  • Lily Greenberg is a poet from Nashville, Tennessee, and the author of In the Shape of a Woman. Her work has appeared in New England Review, On the Seawall, Cortland Review, and Eco Theo Review, among others, and she is the 2023 prize winner of the Iron Horse Literary Review‘s National Poetry Month Contest as well as the 2021 recipient of the Dick Shea Memorial Prize for Poetry. Her poetry has been funded by Bread Loaf Writers, ArtsWestchester, and Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, and she holds an MFA from the University of New Hampshire. She lives in Nyack, New York.

  • Stills from M, directed by Fritz Lang, and starring Peter Lorre. The film's screenplay was written by Lang and his wife, Thea von Harbou, and it was Lang's first sound film.