“To the Insurance Agent Who …” by Darren Morris

Darren Morris


During the Christianity wars in Paris 1572,
three Huguenots were skewered on a spit
and roasted. They happened to be children
and siblings, two brothers and a sister.
And it was the Will or Holy Plan of God
that they would die this way. For the girl,
if she were allowed to come into womanhood
one day, would take seed and give birth
to the Antichrist who would destroy Christianity
for evermore. That was the thought. The Catholic
shoe mender who lured the children into his home,
the man who would save the world,
cranked the spit and had no further
context of the extravagant display of his crime
—for which the angels in the echelons
would take up their terrible horn and siren voices
to equally praise and condemn for eternity.
He could feel God moving through
his hands, he would later describe to others
who simply saw him as a psychopath
before the word for that condition was invented.
And as with another thing their brains
were not equipped to identify: it was loneliness
that motivated his actions and not God at all,
unless God was loneliness, as he must be.
And if you find yourself confused
by this little narrative, remember
that to have faith is to believe
as the shoe mender did in his innocence,
or to come closer to the same fire
and take some comfort there.

from Rattle #62, Winter 2018
Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist


Darren Morris: “I know it has spit-roasted children in it, but this poem is meant as a kind of satire. It refers to the French Wars of Religion and the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre during which Catholics slaughtered Calvinist Protestants, the Huguenots. I was hearing the phrase ‘everything happens for a reason’ from quite a few people around me in a short period of time, and it curdled my blood, perhaps because, even though I think it arises from a desire to comfort, there seems to me an inherent violence in it. It is also extremely dismissive. Further, it can also be used to justify mistreatment of others who suggestively suffer because they do not (yet) have the appropriate faith, just as the shoe mender so piously does in the poem, regardless of his insanity. Too much today seems based on belief over facts, be it the administration of health care, abortion legislation, or teaching creationism in public schools. Religion is fine as long as it doesn’t limit the individual. I think more people would be attracted to religion if its influence were kept out of the political sphere.”

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