The last gift

Fire they had already in abundance.  They had no need to steal it, nor to commission its theft for pity.  What heaven’s burglar gained them was the hearth, and later metal casings to make the fire work.

After fire, though, came the gifts, freely given.  They unwrapped these in awe, each miracle more wondrous than the last.

The waves were tamed, accepting the actual oceans were unruly.  The sails were filled, though of course they could not direct the wind.  The baby’s head was guided.  Skins could be made more durable with piss and fibres woven into cloths.  Water was directed and fields sown with bland food so rock could be hewn and cities built.

Sisterhood they had had for ever, but brotherhood through shared ideas was new: yes, empire and slavery were among the gifts, and the capture and exchange and use of women too.

Some gifts showed great workmanship and had been long in the making.  From the very first, encapsulated life defended its integrity by capturing, cutting, splicing and inserting invading parasitic genes.  This was the gift, that they might use life’s defences as a tool to change the sequences encoding their own nature.

When the basket seemed empty, they carried on looking, turning it over, shaking it and feeling at the seams.  They knew the story, of course, and were looking for hope.   They wanted a myth they might believe in, so they might act positively, winning against the odds.

They found something almost as good.  The last gift of all was wishful thinking, that this might all go well.