“Scene from Fljótsdalshérað in East Iceland” by Asgrimur Johsson, 1951, WikiArt.

Part 1: Sea-Oath Hand-Grasping

Norse Month of Women we celebrated on
Greenlandic homesteads, hearth fires, ale
Pouring, feasts, fornication, coldest winter
Weeks. Northern climes, we revered not
Sunrise seed-sowing, but mystical sea-
Dreams, longing for wind-tide clearing fiord
Ice, floes opening, deep-sleeping longboat
Soul awakened, men, women sail mending,
Rigging repaired. Lo! We fixed our thoughts
On far-western shores, magical realms sea-
Beckoning: Helluland, Markland, promise
Of mist-shrouded Vinland.

Alas! First bright sunlight, wave life-stirred,
Ice splitting, crushing, grinding, day and
Night, beckoning Norsemen, beached boats
At ready. Upon high cliffs we watched,
Wondered, glories awaiting at horizon’s
Edge. Elder warrior amongst us, Thordrek,
Slept not, brine-peering, diviner of whale-
Paths, his soul alight, cloud, ice reading,
His stout mind bent on westward voyages.
“What haunts you so?” I, Brithe, asked of
Him. Moments he responded not, his grey-
Eyes gaze-fixed on pastel floe-moving ice.

“For most, sea-routes linger beyond sight,”
Thordrek began. “Even Norsemen fear high-
North stalking spirits. They venture not ice-
Cluttered seas, yet with each day of hay
Raking, manure shoveling, heart weakens,
Soul grieves. Which life is greater, death
More honourable?” By his words, he
Dismissed me, adolescent girl, until I aloud
Stated, “Where you sail, I will go, never
Failing or betraying, long as we both shall
Live.” By sea-oath hand-grasping, Greenland
Clifftops, this day my life changed.

Thanks for reading.

Social profiles