We pray to the west shore.

This being—your god, we don’t know his name—this being eats through the sand and gets between your toes. He wraps himself in skin foil, in body bags and debris. He does not accept prayers before sunrise, no matter how earnest or pleading they might be. He looks down and observes the crawling souls, but does not extend a hand to scoop them up because his fingers are wrapped tight around an archive of words, all the verses and murmured prayers he commissioned from the greatest extant minds, and he has become too protective of them, too guarded. He refuses to let even a syllable fall from his grasp in exchange for saving a single soiled native from the oncoming tide.

We pray to the east shore.

Here, your god is dead. The skin foil has long ago been shredded; the body bags unzipped and emptied of their walking bones. The debris has been fashioned into statues of lust, pleasing to the eye and to the caress. Febrile minds, drunk on blustery air carried in off the waves, can easily imagine these shapely forms being open and compliant. Rape is the price of such progress, such diseased imaginations, and under their invasions these childbearing hips of concrete and metal will, if impregnated, give birth to the future. The beachcombers dream of natives who won’t crawl in the mud, but will instead run into the sea and wash themselves until they’re adults, bled clean and ready to breed for the first time. Words, meanwhile, are history, washed away in the brine.

Behind our massed ranks of nameless soldiers—the eager, warmongering front line, then the unprotected cannon fodder, followed by the scared to shivering rear gunners—north clings to gravity’s embrace. She wants to believe in the earth in all its roots, stones and corpuscles, and she fervently prays to be held forever and ever, amen.

We look south.
We bow our heads.
We pray to no one.