Nor’easter overnight, longship oak ribs
Sand and surf emerging, upward curved
To daylight, Norse boat discovered on
Maine Harbor Island beach, evidence
Vikings explored south of L’Anse aux
Meadows. Stone foundations, collapsed
Fire beacons, remnants of repair station
For sailing ships venturing to Vinland,
Farmsteads along New England coast.
Men and women of fire and shield, ten
Viking longships sou’ward turned, mist
Amongst towering ice-islands, fresh
Water sun-cascading, sea-swift steeds,
Creaking mast, wind-stretched sails,
Honour made, fates cast, facing Odin
Gales, turn to island harbors, Norse
Tribes established Vinland station,
Arduous sea-course made good.
Surveillance completed, archaeologist’s
Trowels reflected time-sealed context
Of black earth, for one thousand years
Norse secrets slept, their sea expansion
Revealed. University students excavated
Crusted iron tools, woman’s brooch,
Norse life exposed in tight grid squares,
Bone fragments reconstructing years
Of island habitation.
Christian cross or Odin’s hammer, both
One the same, clans lived merry-hearted
Island lives, around fires they sang sea-
Sagas, swords in bloody clash, Helluland,
Markland, whale-paths navigated, storm-
Eye we prevailed, steer-board faith turned
To deeper waters, mindful warriors knelt
At cross of Christ, skill and luck twained,
Stout Vikings proving boats and destiny.
Scattered nails and needles, archaeological
Evidence suggested Viking life ceased on
Harbour Island. Whether absence of game
Of fish, their fate was sealed. Cooking pits
And hearths reduced to sooty streaks, walls
Over-washed in ruins. Where embers once
Burned bright, iron works were reduced
To slag. Pottery shards gave way to sterile
Earth, storms crushed the entire island.
Winter storms descending, Vikings in haste,
Their fleet wind-scattered, island pounding
Ice-spray, howling winds raised seas axe-
Wielding, eyes of fighting men turned pale,
Wives and children lost, longships broken
Upon rocky sea-cliffs, Harbor Island repair
Station destroyed, grim tales arrow-pained,
None survived death gales, longships sand
Buried, hearts and hopes long buried.
As with many Viking sites, they provided
Dark glimpses of their past, their prowess
To venture beyond northern Newfoundland.
Perhaps answers lie hidden along shores and
Isles of great Saint Lawrence, Vinland may
Be dream or awaiting new discovery. Maine
Island habitation was disaster stricken, too
Close to Atlantic Ocean edge, vulnerable to
Sea-storms, ribs of one Norse boat remain.
Remarks after writing:
I dream of Viking life, of what could have been.
Beyond textbooks and excavations, Norse history
has been lost. My heart says they took to warm
sea breezes, settling along the New England coast.
Their boats lost to sand and silt, souls rising to
divine light, some remnant of kindred sea-spirits
beckons me to write tonight. There is no evidence
of Viking habitation on Harbor Island, Maine.
For more on viking habitation at L’Anse aux Meadows,
Newfoundland, see this link.