On a bluff above the Labrador Sea
My pointed trowel plies ancient earth,
Revealing secrets held a 1000 years ago,
When courageous Vinlanders, mighty seafarers,
Braved the threat of ocean swells and ice,
To inhabit this bleak, wind-swept land
Where few have only ventured,
Never daring to take a stand.
Were you alone, Redgin, Son of Kharl
Or did you bring your bride,
Trusting and clear-eyed,
With a suckling at her breast?
What words of hope or love did you proffer
When in square-sailed ships,
You left your warm, stone-house?
With weapons raised, you landed on
This lonesome rocky shore.
And claimed her and this land
As only yours to own.
Deep within my taut grid squares,
I scrape black earth, peering back in time.
During this short summer of
Field notes and black flies,
This quest of mine upon these shores
Pens your struggles,
Your habitation, and
Alas, a brutal journey’s ebb.
My sharp-edged trowel
Carefully exposes the
Last days of your life.
With each minute bit of metal and bone –
A paucity of non-lithic artifacts –
You gradually release your frozen grip,
To visualize a dark and daunting past.
While sleeping near your bones,
Realization startles me to my feet.
Norseman, Redgin, Son of Kharl
Brutal, stout, and strong,
You and I are as one – lost kinfolk,
Sharing a distant genetic past.
As a woman of Irish blood,
I feel you deep within my womb.
With too few bone fragments left to find,
I catalogue them like priceless pearls.
In doing so, I discover unknown
Truths about your life and death.
Like you and my father’s father,
We are island wanderers, true seafarers,
Our bloodline and souls chained fast.
For that, I am eternally grateful.
To you, my heroic Vinlander,
And to the mitochondrial DNA
Sequestered in your bones,
I remain forever in your debt.
Written in honour of my late father, a Newfoundlander, and his Viking-Irish genetic ancestry. Yes boy! See related poem, “Death of Signy.”