Part 2: Althing Mind-Speaking
Amongst twenty warriors, wives, Helluland
Althing we held around flat seashore stones,
Items trade-worthy, not battleaxes or
Swords, lest our traders, equally armed,
Enemies became. How to communicate, by
Fingers showing numbers, one, two, or three
Of our desires: furs, hides, and ivory tusks,
High-heaped upon the ground. “They are
Skræling, what do they know?” boasted
Harekson, stout sea-leader. “They are short,
Will hard-learn our true shield-thunder.”
No avail, men mind-speaking, until I, Brithe,
Offered father-given dagger, sharpening stone,
Gift of five winters, weapon-tool, hunting,
Skinning, close blood-fighting, homestead-
Defending. Held head-high in sheath, Althing
Agreed, dutiful sacrifice for seafaring tribe.
Lo! Ten skræling like white-bear, lurked along
Ridge-tops, longboat, stone house marveling,
One of their pack, nursing mother, baby arm-
Carrying. With her, I would silent trade,
Norsemen, women alert for pitched battle.
Clear morn, I took to highest ridges, above
Quaggy tundra, mosquito-chasing breeze,
Soul singing, clutching Odin’s hammer neck-
Lace, agate amulet, faith-strength in Norse
Gods. Perchance my presence observed,
Skræling young mother, women berry picking,
Stopped still as did I, hand in stranger’s
Friendship waved. Upon lichen-covered
Boulder, dagger, sharpening stone placed,
Few moments waited, I walked away.
Dark suspicions both sides reigned, my hope
Women’s intuition would prevail, silent
Trading made. What gods they worshiped,
I wondered, sacred things they held, what
Common ground could we meet, share fire-
Warmth, flame of soapstone lamp? Yet, low-
Circle flying, odd behavior, Arctic raven,
Large head, broad wingspan, distant dagger
Rock landing, sunlight glistening, coarse
Chiding call annoying, perhaps guiding.
Who or what may the chiding Arctic raven represent?
For more on “Raven Tales” or folklore, see this link.
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