Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

They do not always hear our special plea,
the lame gods”Deaf-In-One-Ear, Old Hobbled-Knee,
that sooty lug the lovely naiads flee”
but sometimes we are left with them alone
to call on when the kingly ones have gone,
our household gods have slipped into the sea,
the seawalls all have crumbled into dust,
and waves sweep both the pious and unjust
into a foaming gray infinity.

What purpose in the early pantheond
did they support? While rosy-fingered dawn
massaged the contours of immortal brawn,
they rounded out the sacred coterie
with broken parts”almost humanity.
They shuddered at the thunder, faces drawn,
and turned when others made the earth combust
with lightning bolts of wanton, godly lust
and incense like smoked feathers of a swan.

Yet when the muscled mighty disappear,
we’re left with them. We cry and hope they hear
who linger, maybe, impotent and near.