“Sea View of Cliffs,” Guy Rose, WikiArt.

Part 4: Sister Muriel becomes Mardoll

How does one prepare for sea pilgrimage,
praying, fasting, reading holy scripture?
By what steps could I purify my soul? Yet,
We ventured north by wind-stretched sails,
Five days and nights, Father Bláthan at my
Side, winds tempest howling, seas building,
Too dangerous to navigate near rocky Irish
Coastline, we pushed toward Shetland Isles,
Barren clifftops, seas crashing. Storming
North Sea we breached, foam-streaked
Waves plowing, biting sea-spray, helmsman
Kept course to Norwegian shores.

Dreams or death glimpsed, sea-swallowing
Waves, sailing ship capsized in sight of
Norse fiords, rumors of Ultima Thule true,
Oceans congealed, land liquefied, sea and
Clouds one-blended, time in twilight swirled,
Cast I was upon rocky shores, neither dead
Nor alive, cold paralyzed. Upon sea-washed
Strands, I saw myself from ten fathom high,
Relief of numbing pain, soul released from
Body, until boot kick, sword to shoulder
Jabbed, foreign words shouted, “Sea-Druid
|Lives!” About me, this they said.

By strong arms, up wrested, I was taken to
Norse camp, bed of animal hides, ale given,
Their talk too guttural for my ears. Touch of
Breast, silver cross now Odin’s hammer,
Sister Muriel transformed into knife-wielding
Sea-wraith. Elder man forward stepped, his
Stead worthy in their ranks, beard long, eyes
Deep-set, familiar face, “Mardoll, what keel-
Fates bring you to our clans?” Alas! I remem-
Bered not, save breakers off the bow, only
Memory was of North Sea death awakening.

“Prehistoric Women,” James Tissot, 1895, WikiArt.

Thus, “Mardoll” they called me, “Mermaid”
Of their tongue, mind wave-maelstrom lost,
Fur-hide wearing Druidess, chants and
Magic spells realized, concoctions of herbs
And roots, seer of fates, bones cast, entrails
Spilled, lair of smoke and flame. Crazed
Before them I stood, defiant blade pointed,
“Sail west and north. Beware to all, sail south
And find your death, taste of poisonous
Brine, throats swell, necks break, gale of
Swords awaits.” By such sights, in fevered
Swoon I growled, Norse sea-dread foretold.

Poem of transformation, at edge of death, Sister Muriel awakens as Druidess
Mardoll, her Christian cross changed to Odin’s hammer. Who is the elder man
with deep-set eyes and familiar face. Perhaps this experience was dream-wrought.
Thanks for reading. 

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