THE VÖLVA QUESTIONS THE LAVA
Rages smoke with fire, the life-feeder,
high flame plays against heaven itself.
Would ye know further, and what?
—Völuspâ: The Soothsaying of the Vala
Translated by Olive Bray, 1908
Nine ages I read, tracing tree rings.
When no light shone in the yawning gap,
what were you?
And in the ill ages of ash, like a hound
traversing earth, what did you seek?
Songs of starvation and death
survive, ear to ear.
I eye the ridgeline,
rivering the softest rock to know more.
Far back in time, the cloven heavens
seered into us a century of wailing.
Know ye more or not?
Walls fall in a wolf age.
Leekless, the fields.
There, slain gods adorn the trees.
as bodies moving.
To see me,
unscrew one eye
to the socket
and stash it in a well.
Let salt unseal a story.
The orb spins—
villages rise again:
uncivil river, death-hewn, a plore song…
by tree-light the world’s in mourning.
A stone knowledge gleams
at the letting go.
I unmake eternity,
fluent as the migratory birds
that reverse the ground.
“All exposed” and “Here now.”
Runes graved on bone draw sap;
the frozen veins flash.
Say it: words last.
Source Text: Jacoby, Gordon C., Karen W. Workman, and Rosanne D. D’Arrigo. “Laki eruption of 1783, tree rings, and disaster for northwest Alaska Inuit.” Quaternary Science Reviews. 18 (1999) p. 1365-1371. Selected passage p. 1369.
Photo: Kevin Tseng. “Fjaðrárgljúfur.” 2016.
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