On Bates Street beside Kennedy Park in Lewiston, Maine, in the shadow of Peter and Paul Church two old friends happened to meet as they proceeded in opposite directions. It was a tepid summer morning in Maine, sunny and clear. They talked about a character known to both of them, Pablo. You may observe Pablo at various times as he walks about town. He's the guy in the tan full-length dust jacket and fedora hat. Lots of people know him. I have known him for years.
Then the one fella said:
"Oh, that's Pablo, he wanted to sleep forever,
like most people do, tend to,
then everything changed.
He got in this battle with God."
Then says the other fella:
"They say he's crazy.
He likes sitting under trees,
and God made the trees,
and nobody said God was crazy,
since if He was, He wouldn't be perfect,
and how could God not be perfect,
therefore, he loves the trees.
He spent much time in the trees.
He seemed to get along, married,
made money, had interests, correctnesses.
Then the debate goes on. One fella says one thing and the other says something else. They spoke in an halting way as if irresolute.
"But what does that mean? Tree hugging.
Why would he want to?
Keep balance, stay recognizable,
satisfy madnesses of curiosity:
stay sane. Isn't that struggle enough?
What happened between him and God?"
"He wanted to learn to whirl around like a dervish."
"Oh, what about God is for a man to make sense of?"
"He's the creator of the damned and the mad.
Figure that one out."
"Who would know more about it than Him?
Explain to me the wretched.
It's His creation. The old fables
claim He made them too.
He's perfect you know, infinitely good."
"Perfect! What does that mean?
Can't we talk about another word than perfect?
It might mean complete knowledge
whether of good or evil.
I know that word. An outsiders' word.
God, isolated among the Angels,
who are unable to understand Him,
might know enough about evil to avoid it.
Oh, in his glory he knows evil
but only as the outsider knows evil.
But how could that be perfect?
Sounds like ignorance."
"Is that what his battle was about?
Your tree hugger? That God must be ignorant
to have allowed evil in his creation."
"To a point. Everything with Pablo is to a point.
The keepers of the legends warned
that he was in company with the devil.
But he turned his back against them."
"Ceased going to church, I take it?"
"Dreamed about going to church, to a point.
Thought of it as a haven.
He wouldn't quit. He pondered it.
I think he'd prefer living unknown,
slipping between the garbage cans
than rattle his brains this way."
"Oh the answer is simple.
God created the damned and the good
to tell which was which."
(Why He couldn't have figured out some other
way to do it, hard to tell, in His perfect wisdom.
But I got the program and the backups,
witches, prophets, the box with the dragon,
computer parts, tin cans, sets of wheels.)
"Tell him to tighten up that screw!"
"Yeah. I'm goin home.
He ain't the only one
needs to tighten up them screws."
Thus they depart, two old friends talking about a third old friend, not present, and they wandered about their lives the same as all of us do.