In another life I was grander, vaster, hungrier, stronger.
I devoured continents, I drank the blood of sacrifices.
I was the fire.
A god, in truth,
born in flames and smeared in the ashes.
I was worshipped.
My followers huddled in perpetual fear of the stalking dark,
and only I, with my heat and light, could drive the nightmares back.
So they chanted
and I listened
and I gobbled their prayers in.
Time burned down.
Castles, gunpowder, locomotives, electric lights.
It’s a sleek, modern world we live in now.
To survive, I’ve had to rebrand.
No longer am I a fire god.
I am a kitchen god now: domesticated, refashioned.
I haunt stovetop ranges and electric griddles,
rewarding with a gentle, even simmer,
punishing with burnt bacon and scorched pans.
I’ve learned to reimagine myself,
to play to an emerging market segment.
No one cowers in fear and awe of me now (except on rare, catastrophic occasions),
but I’m there in every home, every restaurant, every office breakroom with a microwave.
My appeal, reevaluated, has been accepted.
The business of worship is cuttthroat; we’ve had to adapt.
Look at my sister, spider goddess, hoarder of shadows and secrets.
Now she’s goddess of a different sort of web,
legs straddling the world, plucking social media posts from Chicago to Beijing.
Or father dearest, the All-Seeing One,
viewership mogul of Netflix and YouTube.
Our distant relative the god of the feast has fared the best,
growing fat on transactional fees and mortgage interests, the glutton.
The world doesn’t run on blood and stone anymore.
It runs on fiber optics.
All the more pity for you, mother,
and you all my brothers and sisters,
clinging to your wooded groves and sacred springs,
howling sacrilege even as you fade away.
I pity you; yes, I do.
I may be smaller, differently shaped, unrecognizable to you who birthed me,
but I am still here.
I cling, tenacious and enduring.
I survive, while you–
You become nothing:
a memory, a shred of wistfulness;
a sentiment of time
that has long since stopped existing.