“Woodsman,” Ivan Kramskoy, 1874, WikiArt.

Part 1: Sister taken as Prisoner-Guest

Approach of cloaked stranger, staff walking,
Concerns of Christians and Druids, alike, I,
Sister Muriel, sunlit glade, stream resting,
Snap of twigs, I feared no man at this place,
I received vision of Christ as errant teenager,
My calling, for healing, ministering to those in
Need. “Sister!” Intense blue eyes, beard, he
Took to knees on grassy bank, hands cupped,
Sips from cool-flowing stream. Gathering
Closer, he appeared more wildling than monk.

“As servant of Christ, how may I help you,
Brother?” asked I, Lord as prayer and shield.
“Name is Albrikt. My brethren have great need.”
To feet I stood, cross-topped staff ready for
Foot journey. “Great illness swept our lands.”
Cloak to ground fell, Viking warrior revealed.
More by smell than rustling branches few
Stepped forward, sword, battle axe, strength
Of ten or more unlaced from forest depths,
Now with weapons drawn, surrounded me.

“Are you taking me prisoner?” “Our guest,”
Albrikt countered. “Longboat from Irish lands
To Norse fiords.” Alas! Monk cloaks they
Wore, mud-splattered, stride-stopping smell
Of pungent smoke, smoldering stone church,
Monks with water buckets. “Protecting you,
Arms they drew first, beaten not blade wounded.”
O! Mud-concealed stains of blood. I was Norse
Captive by force taken, my fellow Christians,
Faces smashed, left hurting on church grounds.

“Ingolf” by P. Raadsig, 1850, Viðeyjarstofa in Viðey, Reykjavik.

Upon beachhead, another five Norsemen we
Met, ship protecting, wading into surf, lifted
Onto longboat, sails wind-tightened, turned
From Ireland coast. “What is it that you want?”
I demanded. “I shall throw myself overboard.”
Albrikt from sea-chest removed, rolled vellum,
Inscriptions contained thereon. “Can you read
This?” I nodded. “Ancient darkness haunts
Our lands, sickness to mothers and to beasts.”
I peered at cryptic script. “Some say madness of
Celts awakened, prayers to Norse gods, no avail.”

Beginning a new poetic series, Vikings have taken Sister Muriel as
prisoner-guest to Norse lands. The tale unfolds as secrets of
vellum are unraveled.  For more on Sister Muriel, see this blog post:

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