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

VÖLVA

LAVA

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.

Matter begins

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…

Listen!

 

 

 

Pattern-Sounder, Silmaril,

by tree-light the world’s in mourning.

 

A stone knowledge gleams

at the letting go.

 

I unmake eternity,

rewild gold,

 

fluent as the migratory birds

that reverse the ground.

 

Describe being?

“All exposed” and “Here now.”

 

 

Runes graved on bone draw sap;

the frozen veins flash.

 

Say it: words last.

Poet! Listen

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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