Talk about a Lesser God.
There’s Saturn lording it over all of agriculture, Isis giving the fertile land the horn, Indra kissing the sky to make it rain just right so that everything that grew on their green earth grew good enough to eat.
Then there was him. Xochipilli, god of maize.
‘Nice ears,’ the children of the other deities mocked, but he was too busy dreaming to get hurt.
She was Artemis, the lunar goddess, who he loved with all his heart, the one he danced away each and every night with.
‘In your dreams,’ the children taunted, and they were right.
Xochipilli preferred to watch her from afar, never daring to get even a little closer, lest he saw her shine in someone else’s eye. It was all too easy to picture her riding off into the moonlight with a worthier divinity. Like that Hindu god Soma, who—and this maddened and impressed Xochipilli in equal measures—knew how to get drunk by drinking the moon!
That summer, Limos plagued the land with a famine so catastrophic it made all crops fail, but for reasons known only to the elements, could not harm the maize. By the equinox, Xochipilli’s yield was the only thing keeping the deities fed. He was on the cover of Top Of The Crops. Demeter, the goddess of harvest, wondered if he was free for dinner.
‘Good cob,’ the children cheered.
He felt he should celebrate, and had barely hit the town when a figure came bursting out of nowhere and knocked him off his feet.
‘You know where the music’s playing?’
That voice. That grace. Artemis. He was beholding the sweet and heavenly Artemis!
‘C’mon, baby, where’s the party at?’ She howled. High as the rising moon, one too many moonshines.
Xochipilli could only stand there, frozen.
‘Hey, you’re the sweet potato guy, right?’
‘Maize,’ he managed a nervous mumble.
‘I know you!’ She giggled. ‘I think you’re a-maize-ing!’
‘That’s pretty corny,’ he punned back, intended.
‘Hey, you wanna go out and feel the night?’ she hiccupped. ‘Let’s go dancing in the light, woo!’
And with that, Artemis danced into a field, hurled into the corn and passed out sprawled across the sea of cobs. Like children sleeping, he thought.
Xochipilli did not know whether she would remember him when the sun came back to reign, or if he would ever get to see her dance again, but as he gently lifted her to dream the night away in the nook of her silken crescent, he knew only one thing.
He would always be in love with her.
For Priya Joi. By Shihab S Joi
Hat-doff: Neil Young