They call you ‘Friend of Man’,
and though you are not human,
have never been human,
Still you understand us poor mortals
better than the others of your family.
Though you of Mount Olympus
are called the Deathless Ones
still you understand our fear of death
and you are kind to us–
save in cases of human evil
where kindness is not called for–
when you come to escort us away,
after our last breathing moment,
to our destination beyond
the gates of Ivory and Horn
to Hades’ domain.
You alone of all the Olympians
as your first utterances show
–to brother Apollo,
when he confronted you for stealing his cattle–
and you know well how important a laugh can be
to help lighten our heavy loads.
You understand the need for theft
when hunger and privation and poverty
threaten to tear body from soul
and we would sell the very flesh off our bones
for a mouthful of bread–
if not for us, then for our children.
Not for nothing are you called ‘God of Thieves’,
and perhaps for you, theft is more about
the joy of the challenge
than any hunger-driven need,
but still, you show your favor
to those who pray to you
in those moments of extreme desperation.
You taught me the value of persistence,
even through pain;
You taught me to keep going,
even when all hope is gone.
You taught me the reasons
a closed mind can be a death sentence.
And you taught me the only appropriate response
for certain kinds of stupidity is laughter.
The miasma of human things
does not touch your incorruptible self,
but above all others, I think,
you understand us woebegone
and ridiculous human beings,
and for that, I will always
be grateful for the time spent in your company,
always pour out libations to you,
just as two friends might get together for tea,
thank you for your aid,
tell you how things have been,
wonder the same of you,
call you Friend.