Reading the Icelandic Sagas

The difficult syllables clash
in my mouth. Your knitting
needles make short
work of the yarn,
like the dream-woman
who gave An Twig-Belly
his nickname, filling
his disemboweled gut
with a tangle of twigs
until his intestines could
be put back where
they belonged, in all
their tortuous windings.
We puzzle through
the genealogies, struggle
to picture the raw land
rising behind the words,
yet somehow these grim stories
bring us closer together.
Young men described
as promising will end up
wallowing in each other’s gore—
we know this.
Beautiful women will goad
their thin-skinned mates
into horrific acts.
A shepherd boy is smashed
against the ground so hard
his spine snaps, & two years
after his miraculous rescue
An Twig-Belly dies
a quick & needless death,
split by an unheroic sword.
You frown at your knitting
& decide it too needs
to be unraveled. I watch
the dark garment which was
to have been mine dissolve
in your expert fingers.
You smile.
I feel light as air.


See Rachel’s photographic response: “Seed.”

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6 Comments


  1. Later it had to be ripped back to the rib but now it grows again in spirals like the helix of a narwhal’s tooth. And still is yours.

    Reply

  2. I’ve also just realised that should my irrational (but worrying, nagging) belief in the sweater curse become overwhelming I can just claim there’s a mistake and unravel it again. A sort of reverse Penelope. Thus being an Epolenep.

    Reply

    1. “No controlled studies have investigated this phenomenon, and the available evidence is largely anecdotal, which is generally of low reliability due to cognitive bias.” Gotta love the Wikipedia.

      Reply


  3. I missed this, somehow, but it’s still just as wonderful and evocative of that unique reading experience, and the two of you.

    Reply

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