To al-Lāt

For Johanna

Hail starry al-Lāt, bride of the Dionysos
of Mount Šarā, granddaughter of Ouranos
whose belly is the heavens, and daughter of
the Moon God Allāh of Mecca, along with
her sisters Manat and al-‘Uzza the Modest.
The women of the nomadic Arab tribes
round al-Ḥijāz anoint your idol with fragrant
oils when they wish to bear strong sons
that will win undying fame and wealth
for their families through the labor of Ares;
and numerous temples have been built for you
by the pious Nabateans; at Palmyra you are
remembered as the one who named the constellations;
and the famous harpers of Hatra sing love songs
in your honor, while couples feed each other
honeyed figs and stare longingly into one another’s eyes;
even as far as Libya and Carthage has your fame reached,
where you are depicted as a slim-ankled maiden,
hair let loose, standing naked beneath a palm tree
as you wave the aegis to drive back the plague-bearing
arrows of the mad hermaphrodite dwarf with its face
painted white. Hail al-Lāt who grinds barley-meal
for her husband, who welcomes Hermes into her temple,
whom the oppressed call upon to bring about vengeance
and the restoration of right order, whom the traveler invokes
for fair weather and protection from raiders, who shares her
marriage bed with al-‘Uzza, who sends blindness and lameness
upon anyone who disturbs memorials for the dead,
who casts lots and peers into the silver basin,
who reviles the babbler Moameth for destroying her temple in Ta’if,
and who delights in date wine and long walks
with her man along the beach at dawn,
who shines forth as the planet Venus. Hail Great Goddess
who rides the lion, and long may you be worshiped!