You can’t do that! I cry out in fear,
watching the woman laid bare on the bed.
A blade presses gently against her arm,
trailing an invisible line across her skin.
And then once more further down,
across the thigh above the knee.
It is diseased, you say.
All between the lines you see.
There is no other way.
I cry, I fear, I panic and think
that woman will die.
For how could she not?
You listen not to me.
Your hand is steady,
you cut and reshape
the flesh that remains.
It is with great relief I see
the woman stand
alive and free of pain,
free of all that was.
So much, cut away,
she’s now no taller than a child
but still alive.
Yes, I see her walking.
Through painful loss,
and frightful aid,
a brand new life.
I am awake.
How long I have slept, I can’t tell.
Rising from bed I come to face a mirror.
Tracks across my bare skin, I see them there.
Footprints, paw prints, bird prints,
prints of unknown beasts.
With a careful finger I follow the tracks,
trying to make sense of what can not be.
More, there is more.
Pictures emerging, figures and faces,
beings of this world and the next.
I marvel at the sight.
Fading, they are fading quick.
Record them, photograph them,
commit them to memory
before they are gone.
The wilderness passes by at a slow pace, to the clop-clop-clop sound of hooves. It is not a horse I ride, not even a pony. Just a donkey, so small that my feet nearly touch the ground.
Clop-clop-clop-clop, on we go.
Something catches my eye beside the road, something moving between trees and bushes. A blurr of colour, orange or yellow, swiftly gone. To see it better I take the spyglass from my side and raise it to my eye, seeing through the tube a picture only somewhat clearer.
A tiger. Slowly stalking through the edge of the forest, slowly coming closer. I lower the glass, the animal has come close enough for me to clearly see it even without such tools. It has its eyes on me. It is coming.
Clop-clop-clop-clop I urge the donkey on along the road. We are too slow, all I can do is hope the attack never comes.
In rainwater soak
Leaves of birch chopped fine
Into it coarse salt pour and
Mix with almond oil
Strip down bare
Even if cold
Leave not a thread
Even if cold
As thorough as ever then
Wash your limbs
Wash your body
Wash your hair
Rinse in running water
With salted birch and oil you then
Scrub your limbs
Scrub your body
Scrub your hair
Rinse in running water
Clean new clothes
Chamomile and honey tea
Sleep and be reborn
… and uniforms, we all wear them. Crisp and clean, we are to look good for the camera. Look good for the public. I have to remind myself to smile and hold my back straight, to keep pretending. My gaze flickers from one person to the next, never lingering too long on those I know to be friends. Just a little while longer must we hold it together, this act of ours. Just a little while longer.
On my right side suddenly stands a woman. I know her not by name, but that matters little. She is one of us. One who has had to give up everything, had to renounce her faith and put on a mask of uniformity, just to survive.
I see her shaking. Her lips, her arms, her entire essence, trembling. There is sweat across her brow and a look of desperation in her dark brown eyes. By my side she stands, whispering with a voice muddled by tears.
“I can’t… I can’t do this…”
The chill of danger floods me. Too many around us, there are too many.
“Please don’t go without me,” she whispers. “I… I…”
Too many watching. I lean in, lower my head by hers, face to face as were we about to kiss. Shielding her expression from being seen. My upper lip grazes against hers as I whisper.
“You can do this. Breathe. Don’t think. We won’t leave you.”
Just a little while longer.
I wrote a poem for Rán today. It will be read as I offer Her drops of snaps and a little package of Fisherman’s Friend. And I will plead with Her to soften the blow for all those who suffer due to the recent storm related flooding. Because as a voice called out, imploring his fellow Heathens to ask Rán for help, people would say: No. Ask Thor!
And yes, ask Thor, the master of storms. But let it not be said I would deny Rán, when honestly asked.
May She keep a calm sea even as storm rages above!
May Her daughters safely carry those lost back to land!
May those unescapably caught in Her nets fare well in Her halls!
Be safe, all!
Heralding Her arrival, there came a single kitten.
Its dark grey, almost black fur, all unkempt and uneven.
Its bright eyes green and piercingly aware.
‘Look’, it seemed to say without a voice.
‘Look, for here She comes.’
And there She was.
In bird form She came,
a hunting bird with
feathers of gold and
a terrifying beak.
Before my eyes, bird-form fell and
She came forth.
Not in youthful splendor but
old and grey,
a wrinkled beauty with eyes of
So I saw Her.
Freya, most precious Lady.
May Her hall forever stand.