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"Together Through the Spartoi Wards"

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Hermes watches me
         as we run
     together through the Spartoi wards.
 
Does he expect me to speak?
         Would that be allowed?
     Did his nod grant me such an honor?
 
And still,
         Hermes waits for me as we run
     together through the Spartoi wards.
 
I suck a dry breath
     into my fluttering stomach.
The air gathers strength
     for a pace or two
         or three
then pushes formulaic words
     out
through my tight-clenched smile.
 
"A thousand greetings to you
     on this pleasant morning,
         Baal-Hermes."
 
The god arches an eyebrow
         as we run
     together through the Spartoi wards.
 
My insides shrivel.
     How could I have made such a mistake?
     How could I have laid
         Sidonian honors
         on a daimon of Hellas?
     "Lord Hermes," I correct myself.
     "Great Lord Hermes,
a thousand greetings to you on this pleasant morning."
 
Hermes smiles at me.
 
"It is indeed a pleasant morning, young Pyrrha.
         The pink fingers of Eos
     have chased away the great bear
             that guards the night.
         And just now,
     I've spotted the blazing chariot of Helios
             clearing the mountains to the east,
         heralding the bright Hour of Auge."
 
My breath releases in a sigh.
 
Hermes speaks with bells in his voice.
     With birdsong in his words.
     With thick-flowing honey that oozes into my ear canals.
Now that I've heard that voice,
     the voice of an undying god,
all mortal speech will forever sound
     like braying goats.
 
It is indeed a pleasant morning,
     young Pyrrha.
 
My eyes pop wide.
He spoke my name.
     He spoke
         my name!
 
Hermes,
     the giant-slaying patron
         of merchants and messengers,
     of travelers and tricksters,
         of liars and thieves,
     son of mighty Zeus himself,
             addressed me by my name!
 
         I force my face back into a mask of calm,
but my insides bubble like a cauldron
     as we run
         together through the Spartoi wards.

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