Giant Invisible Grandma God
God enters the room as a grandma, a Southern Jewish grandma.
His grandma aroma fills every space.
God enters the room as a grandma and His heavy weight fills the corner
with a wide whump! God is large after all these years.
When He is around there is so little room in this place for anyone else.
He takes up all the space but you can hear the swish from the corner seat
that calls all the grandchildren chicky, pats their heads while saying,
“There, chicky, there now, chickling chickpea chickaree-dee-bee,”
and the click-click of the crochet needle against the knitting loom
as He clicks out hats for all the grandkiddies and I am not
one of those feminists that writes poetry about the goddess within
and ruptures up all this performance art from my menstruations,
no, this is the same patriarchal God you’ve always railed against,
except today He is a grandma and His grandma perfume fills the room
and he says to all His granddaughters,
“Chicky, what colour yarn you want for your hat? You choose, dearie.”
and when they tell him what colour yarn is them most preferable,
takes a different colour and goes on calmly knitting hats, and
now the granddaughters begin to rail against Him, and
with them, me, and all the feminists too,
we all rail and everyone is crying, yelling, all at once,
“No, Savtush! No! I didn’t want the blue one!
I didn’t ask for that! Saaav-TUSH!
I said a yellow one! You’re not listening to me!
You’re not listening! That’s not what I told you,
Savtush! You never listen to me!” and
while the railing rails on, Grandma God is calmly
clicking out hats, smiling sweetly from His corner chair and
His grandma perfume is warm and comforting, and
when He clicks out your hat, chicky, why, isn’t that just
the darlingest hat you ever set your head beneath and
doesn’t it just look so much better than the yarn that was you preferable and
aren’t you just so peacified to be sitting on God in the corner chair
there, your head inside His warm grandma perfume sniffing
His large breasted chest instead of kicking in the middle of the floor and
His smile never changes, it’s the same smile he clicked out his hats with and
He’s calm and warm and Savtush and He never changes because
He’s your great big giant invisible Grandma God.
Note from Pip: Charlotte Simmonds is one of the funniest people I know. I always laugh heartily when we are together. One of her super-powers is puns. For me, puns work because I have to hold two ideas in my head at the same time and there is something destabilising to reality about that state – the horse has a long face and a long face, the socks are holy and holy, the man who swallowed the eight plastic horses is in a stable condition and a stable condition. I have this theory that only language can do this, because a lot of other art forms (film, theatre) unfold in a particular order – one thing following another. But language has this ability to mean two things at once and cause this shimmering effect as the two things come in and out of focus. Which is a long-winded way of saying, this is what I love about ‘Giant Invisible Grandma God’ by Charlotte.
Throughout the poem I have to hold the two ideas of God and Grandma in my head, so it has this volatility to it, this energy. God is knitting hats, grandma is knitting hats. So I find it a very funny poem. I get a lot of joy out of it and that joy opens me up to the ideas in it. The idea of the way God takes up so much space that there is not a lot of room for anyone else. Also, the child in me loves the idea of a huge grandmother squashed into a regular sized world. Another amazing artist Rachel O’Neill once raised the idea that humour is cultural, that it’s one of the ways we enact cultural belonging. Charlotte speaks many languages and I often think that her writing and her sense of humour has this kind of multi-lingualism to it. That it can call on many places and languages for a laugh. That it is performed from a comedy club in the multiverse.
Pip Adam‘s second novel, The New Animals, was released this year. Her debut novel, I’m Working on a Building appeared in 2011, and her short story collection, Everything We Hoped For, won NZ Post Best First Book Award for Fiction. She makes the Better Off Read podcast.
Charlotte Simmonds is a Wellington writer, translator and PhD student who spends her time reading the news and her tears on the elections.