the smallest god, he stood and bowed
and sought the eyes of all allowed
he cleared his throat and loosed his tongue
and raising eyes and gilded voice, he sung:
“this night i had the strangest dream
our brethren, held in high esteem
were gathered here, this very place,
and bade to play a mortal's game of chase.
the laws were set, and they were thus:
the players chosen were not us;
instead we picked our human pawn
and journeyed him to meet the coming dawn.
they did not race, nor cast their lots
there were no tests nor lucky shots
we had not fate to draw the way
instead we held them life-to-life in play.
and in the game we had no hands
no words to voice our vast demands
we could not call, we could not guide
nor leave our holy residue inside.
for in the dream we were not gods
we threw no dice, we drew no odds
we only chose the captive land
and placed their sleeping bodies in the sand
we watched in glee as they awoke
not one knew what the other spoke
there was no food or spring nearby
but only empty salted sea and sky
and soon enough that island cage
became our bright and bloodied stage
we placed our bets on those we chose
and gloried at their cries and desperate blows
at last at dusk, but two remained
our breaths were still, our eyes were strained
but oddly then it came to be
not one of us would claim a victory
the men could stand and fight no more
and to the earth each other bore
and clasped to wrist beside the tide
together there they bled and slept and died."
the smallest god had finished thus,
but softly added, "as for us,
i do not care to speak of things
more suited to your own imaginings."
he took his leave from stone and gilt
that empty hall that he had built
and walked along the sea and spray
until his footsteps too had washed away.