þriðjudagur, október 24, 2006


I can hear the neighbors' dog going up and down the stairs just on the other side of this wall. I hear him jouncing down and scrambling up again. I cannot see him, but I hear him clearly. The wall is shared between the two apartments. It is a duplex. The two sides are in all regards the same as to layout, only reversed. The neighbor's apartment is a mirror image of mine. It's a very fertile image.

When the Tuatha De Danaan and the sons of Mil fought over Ireland, neither side got the upper hand. They called a truce and reached a settlement. Ireland would be divided, and each people would get half. The sons of Mil would have the half above the earth's surface, and the Tuatha De Danaan would have the half below. Later, they became known as the Fair Folk. Occassionally a human would be invited or stumble into their realm, often as not though a door in a hill, and always their side of Ireland would seem very like the world of men, except different. An Otherworld.

I listen to the dog ascending and decending and I think about the ingenious truce reached in Ireland thousands of years ago, in the age of heroes and magic. Is it really the neighbors' dog I hear, or it is my own dream of a dog, the ghost of a dog, always on the other side of the wall separating the world as it is from the world as it almost is?

mánudagur, október 23, 2006

til allra átta

She does not sleep well in an entirely dark room. Or maybe it is only falling asleep that she finds difficult. It isn't terror of the dark, of what might be unseen in that blackness. She thinks it might be the disorientation that disturbs her. Drifting into sleep, her body becoming lighter, she might lose all sense of direction. She finds it unnerving. With even faint light from the window, the glow of distant sodium lights reflected back from the cloud layer, she can always deduce the location of everything in the room: floor, walls, the bed itself.

She was once pulled beneath the surf by the undertow. In the swirl of water and sand, she couldn't tell which way was up, and she needed to know which way to swim to break the surface before her breath ran out. Clever the way her mother was always clever, she let a single bubble of air escape her lips. It wobbled sidways. She turned and followed it.

If only she could do the same in the dark, open her mouth and allow a tiny, trembling sphere of light slip out and rise towards the ceiling.

sunnudagur, október 22, 2006


A big red wine from Chile with a grilled Gouda sandwich in a city where the old tannery looms against the skyline, tignarlega, like a federal building, a palace. Greek columns - a sacred stone grove into which the sacrificial animals were once led.

miðvikudagur, október 18, 2006

ormar og úlfar

The Germans talk about insistent songs as ear worms, and now we do too. It's a good enough image. One can imagine the tune boring itself though the ear canal and in towards the brain. Once there, it twists and coils and makes us twitch to the rhythm of its movements.

Maybe that is wrong. Maybe is it a worm, a serpent, biting its own tail like a tape loop.

I have a tune in my head today, but it is not a worm. It goes like a running dog, a wolf. Its feet hit the ground one after another, but it never gets anywhere. Hati, Garmr, other wolves chasing the heavenly bodies along their tracks (the sun and the moon each in their chariot), never catching them, not until Doomsday.

If I humor myself in my fornfræðamóðr, this makes my stuck melody the music of the spheres.

mánudagur, október 16, 2006

på avstand

Somehow, thousands of miles away, she is hearing the organ in the church at Skien. She understands it to be the largest in Norway. Still, it is not reasonable to be hearing it at all this distance. Even on the radio.

laugardagur, október 14, 2006


No scotch, unfortunately. She is driving home. She stops for gas, petrol, bensín, whatever it is called. Briefly, she thinks of storm petrels, which are not gulls but related to the albatross, and the ouroboros. Headlights on other cars flash by. She turns the wheel when she ought to, crosses the bridge with its illuminated cables.

Still, when she pulls up in front of the house, she is surprised. She had expected to be somewhere else when she got home.

fimmtudagur, október 12, 2006


These words today:

dross - n. slag or scoria, the impurities forced out of metals during melting; from noble Anglo-Saxon words for dregs and for falling. For some reason I always want to confuse it with treacle, which makes no sense at all. Though AS dreosan, fall, must share ancestry with Danish drysse, sprinkle, which I always see in the context of sugar. Maybe that is it. It has nothing whatever to do with Greek drosos, dew or liquid, from which we get the dew-loving fruit fly, drosophilia.

tor - n. a high, rocky hill; from the Anglo-Saxon torr, a tower or rock. Almost surprisingly, it has nothing to do with Þórr (could not -- we cannot get an English t in the place of an Icelandic þ). Þórr has his hammer, hamarr, which is also a towering rocky ridge. Would it be too much to have expected Þórr's name to give us a mountain-word? Will have to content ourselves with Storm King, that eminence towering over the Hudson.

full - v. to clean and shrink esp. with moisture, used of cloth; from Middle English, from Old French, from a hypothetical late Latin root. A pleasantly surprising word for not being any part of to fill, even though it could also draw a cloth of a sack taut.

laugardagur, október 07, 2006


The arrangement of her keys on the keychain replicates the shape of the cosmos.

Let me explain; it may not be obvious to all how this could be so.

The keys are arranged as to correspond with concentric rings of familiarity. The innermost key opens the front door of her house. This is of course the center, the most familiar and hospitable (if a person's own house can be hospitable to the person in question) region. We could, if we were inclined to make such comparisons, think of it at Ásgarðr.

The next key, working outward, opens the door to her office. This is a less private place, though intended to be for her use alone. The ræstingarkonur do come through in the evenings to empty the trash, and she does not entirely command the room's contents. Let us think of it as Miðgarðr.

The third key opens certain shared or common areas in the workplace: the copy room, the lounge, the office. It may be unkind to think of these regions as Jötunheimr, but structurally that is what they are: an outermore because less familiar ring about the two inner ones.

Útgarðr is next, of course. The door to Útgarðr is opened by the next key, the one that opens the building within which both these common areas and her own office are located.

(It could be mentioned that there is another key, not on the keychain at all, and thus representing a yet outermore ring. It opens the door of an apartment on, appropriately, the thirteenth floor of a building nowhere near here. This place corresponds to the outer sea, far out in the sea about the world, past where whales live, where even jötnar do not willingly venture. Jörmundgandr is out there.)

There is another key on another keychain, though that keychain is looped through the first one. It is the ignition key to her car. It provides access to regions not on the horizontal plane at all but instead on the vertical axis piercing the center, Ásgarðr. Hazardous journeys to Svartálfheimr, Múspelheimr, and elsewhere are begun by turning this key.


Let me tell you, let me tell you. There are red maple leaves everywhere on the still-green grass. The oak leaves are brown and rustling. Geese are flying in the dark above, calling to each other or else simply calling out to the world: South, south, south, south.

þriðjudagur, október 03, 2006


I was sleeping, I was sleeping. I heard your voice. You said my name, as if you were right by, to wake me. (Not calling, not knocking, not walking up to my bedroom door, just pronouncing, softly, in a sing-song voice, my name.) I awoke, I awoke.


I had forgotten, I had forgotten: a handful of days ago a butterfly went by me, and I recognized it. It was a Queen. Not a viceroy and not a Monarch, but a Queen. She was smaller than a Monarch but more regal than the Viceroy. Her slender black body was dotted with white as if she wore a close-tailored dress of inverse ermine. Mere Viceroys are not so attired; Monarchs are. There are sumtuary laws among the Papilionoidea; only those of royal blood may wear this fur.

Only a few months ago I would not have known her.

sunnudagur, október 01, 2006

fuglatal ii

Tiny doves
High in the night sky: geese

No gulls (no surprise), no crow and jays (where are they?). The sparrows are sweet and flock prettily on fences and gables. The doves are mourning doves. They are smaller than I remembered, nothing like the fat squabs I'd become accustomed to. I remember not knowing about the u in their name. I had thought they were called morning doves, and I was irritated that I could not explain why.
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