All Their Voices

Words and thoughts in devotion to the Divine


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The Gift of Fire

Prometheus remembers.

 

Will Zeus ever forgive me, if I do this?

 

Probably not.

 

The coals glow on Hestia’s hearth,

casting their warmth outward in a living blanket

of bright radiance that calms and cheers

everyone that rests under that mantle of heat.

 

Below, on Terra, the mortals suffered,

huddled in their caves as a storm raged overhead,

casting down rain.

The winds lashing all who ventured out,

the thunder’s roars loud enough to penetrate

even down into the depths of the caves where they dwelled,

the children crying out in terror

even as they clung to their parents for warmth.

 

He was decided, then:

My brothers may languish in Tartarus,

but I am here, and I can act.

I remember the Golden Age,

when mortals loved us unconditionally,

and we, them.

 

I think of all the things this fire can be used for,

beyond the most basic:

cooking food, eating homes, and giving light, yes, but—

 

A sheet of wildfire races across a fallow field,

clearing it for planting.

 

A torch is used to sear closed the stump of an arm

that a lion has bitten off, keeping a man from

bleeding to death.

 

A young boy chars the tip of a stick in a cookfire,

then begins to draw upon a wall.

 

Fire is used to soften up logs, so they may be more easily

chopped to build a house.

 

Agriculture. Medicine. Art. Architecture.

And so much more.

 

My theft is not one gift, but a thousand gifts.

 

I scoop hot coals into the hollow reed I have prepared, and flee.

 

I will pay the price for my theft in time…

but it will be worth it.


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To Odin

I don’t want to follow in your footsteps:

I recognize I am too weak for the

sacrifice of well and tree.

This does not mean I have not known pain

in my lifetime, only that I do not, cannot,

compare it with yours.

And yes, there is fear—

how could there not be?

I think of all that you are and quake;

You are not exactly known for your kindness.

A friend writes that it is a folly

to think that the Gods do not care for mortals.

Not all gods will concern themselves

with all humans, of course—

they take an interest in just certain ones,

just as we mortals may take an interest

in a favorite actor or author or painter,

or even a sports team.

We do not know why you choose

certain of us, of course;

for the most part,

You’re not telling,

and it would be rude (and dangerous!) to pry.

Now, saying that the gods care for us

is not the same as saying that they defer to us,

nor would I wish it so;

that is not the natural order of things.

What I mean is that it is natural to be afraid of you,

from time to time,

just as I would fear an earthquake,

or a tornado

or a wildfire

or a hurricane—

forces of nature, all so much greater in power than I,

and unpredictable,

with unguessable motivations,

smashing down boundaries,

ignoring the desires of the venal and greedy

and lazy and weak

(and sometimes the strong and the humble

and the dedicated and the committed, too),

and generally doing whatever must be done

to achieve their goals.

 

No, I don’t want to follow in your footsteps,

but I want to be of use.

I want to learn.

I know my fear has thrown up a wall between us—

no wall could keep you out

if you did not permit it to,

but I think, perhaps, you let it stand,

maybe to see how long I would go,

allowing myself to remain apart from you

(in my fear, or maybe my stubbornness),

before at last I cracked.

 

Longer than I should have,

but less time than it could have been, I guess.

I’m tired of—well, not fighting,

because I can’t hope to fight you—

but of struggling,

like a small fish trapped in an unbreakable net.

 

If you will still have me,

if I have not exhausted your patience,

(I do not delude myself that I could make you angry,

You who have faced down giants and trolls

and monsters without a qualm,

but neither do I think your patience is endless),

 

If you will still have me,

here I am.