miðvikudagur, janúar 31, 2007


Admire the perfectly roasted fowl.

Not expertly roasted. You are not an expert. If you were, the perfect roasted bird would hardly be noteworthy. This is an inexpertly but still perfectly roasted, crisp-skinned, moist-fleshed, golden bird. Miraculously, too, the sweet potatoes turn tender just as the dark meat of the legs reaches that right degree (the perfect degree) of doneness.

You carve off pale slices of breast meat onto a colored plate. You swirl the wine and lift the glass to your nose, having no idea after what you are sniffing. (You think of a sometime host who did this.) You slice thin rounds of yam onto the back of your fork. (The unthreatening sweetness of it reminds you of children's simple palates.)

You have a perfectly, perfectly lovely supper.

You set down the silverware and wipe your mouth with the napkin. Return to the kitchen. Cover the carcass with water. (You think of the infinite thrift of a hostess who did this.) You simmer it all night, low blue flame under the the heavy pot keeping the water roiling gently while you sleep.

sunnudagur, janúar 28, 2007


The gas furnace thrums away in the basement. The front room never gets warm. Cold air spills in over the threshhold even when the door is shut and bolted. Walking through it is like stepping into a puddle on the street.

She makes tea and crosses the floor, thinking of socks or Sir Walter Raleigh, turns to go up the stairs. The ceiling is low here, slanting up to the second floor, and already on the first step she feels the warm air flowing upwards along it. It moves past her head, just stirs her hair.

She thinks waterfall, millrace, wonders what invisible things ride the current to the upper floor --or else swim against the current, fighting their way downstairs to their ancient spawning grounds on the kitchen ceiling.

laugardagur, janúar 20, 2007

leggja á

Grettir Ásmundarson vs. Glámr. The famous scene in the moonlight, the wrestling match, the grim tug of war in the gap of the door. The black and bloated revenant pulls with his feet braced against the frame. Grettir does the same. Glámr pulls outwards; Grettir pulls inwards. They are equally matched, and Grettir can feel it. He cannot break Glám's grasp and he cannot pull him into the house. So he lets his feet slip, and Glámr tumbles backwards onto the turf with Grettir on top of him.

It is a clever move, and Grettir does defeat Glámr and behead him, but he never gets free of the curse Glámr lays on him during the fight: eternal outlawry, solitude, terror of the dark.

She is photocopying the passage for a class. She hasn't opened this edition in several years. The cardboard cover flaps away from the title page. A bit of paper is stuck to the flyleaf, a note:
I'm going home. Call me after the meeting--!
and a little scribble of a name.

She feels a little tug. Then she lets go of the book and it falls back onto the desk.


Not only to procyonids precede canids --- they don't, particularly, but that is the idea behind the name --- but Procyon precedes Sirius. This I learn just today. The brightest star in Canis Minor turns, of necessity, ahead of the brightest star in Canis Major.

I did not know there were two Dog Stars until now. Are there more? If every dog has his day, does every dog also have a star? Are they all Dog Stars, then?

Or should I be thinking of this the other way around? There was just a procyonid here on a visit, a handsome specimen of moderate size. Age perhaps 2 years. Distance appox. 2 m. Mass perhaps 6 kilos. Apparent magnitude somewhat greater owing to a luxuriant pelt. Proper motion likely 'ambling.' Rotation only when agitated.

Then I am unsure: Luminosity? Temperature? Declination? Parallax?

fimmtudagur, janúar 18, 2007


She does not have summer flings; she has winter love affairs. Their colors are rich, not so bleached-out. They are less dry and dusty. Winter can have its own dryness, but if her hands crack from cold, a winter lover will rub them with white butter and beeswax. A winter romance smells of snow, fire in the grate, batter becoming cakes. This winter her romance is with the color of blackberries baked into a soft yellow crumb, luxuriously purple and mauve.

sunnudagur, janúar 14, 2007


Rattle, crash, and now each of us is a bit of a fix.

I do not want to make matters worse by writing something about how a piece of the wild winter's night has paid me a visit this graying dawn or anything like that. The burgler's mask. The twitching black nose. Et cetera. It seems disrespectful. No wild animal is ever a cliché, not even when it is only a raccoon that has crawled through the disused heating ducts like a thousand thousand raccoons before him only to lumber into a peanut-butter-baited Hav-A-Hart trap. (Which explains the fix that you are in.)

I will try to address you without falling into any of the obvious traps myself:

Hello. Sorry about that. And I'd like to say that I admire how you have carefully placed your triangular snout just in the corner where the slanting door of the trap meets the floor. I wonder if you find the geometry soothing.

í sofanum

The sofa is pale blue and small, but you can sleep on it if you hang your feet over the far arm. I did. It rained all night. I'm sure there were puddles of water outside. The light from a streetlamp reflected from the surface of one of them and shone a liquid parallelogram on the ceiling. Every time I opened my eyes (at 3:02, at 4:15, at 6:07) I saw ripples expanding outwards from each raindrop. Closing them again, I saw other things.

miðvikudagur, janúar 10, 2007


She bought a silver pitcher. It stands on little four-toed feet. It matches the coffee pot, or nearly so. (The coffee pot has only curls of foliage in place of toes.) They both have round, swooping shapes, streamlined, bottom-heaved and beaked. They have a pleasing physicality in the way that ducks do. They are not egret-elegant. But silver duck-pitcher and silver duck-coffee pot are oblivious to such æsthetic concerns. They stand perfectly unruffled and practical, their spouts pointing off towards the back of the dining room.

mánudagur, janúar 08, 2007


This is in my head this evening:

Eit er frøðið um Nornagest,
tú tarvst onki ráð geva í vanda
tílíkum góðum gekk han næst,
hvør ein sveinur geri so
oksar tólv vóru leiddir á torg
og so fram á fríðu borg
Hvíta tjald nívir niður frammi.
Enn gellir lúður í stavni,
Kallur kom heim við ungum syni,
Kelling situr so hákonu blíð,
Hvíta tjald nívur niður frammi.

It's wonderful that it should be frøðið um Nornagest, that Nornagestr should become one of whom kvæði are kvøðin when most of what he did was to ganga teim næst who were already thus famous. Long may his fame be uppi.

I will do my part and chant his kvæði in the shower tomorrow morning.

laugardagur, janúar 06, 2007


She saw it yesterday for the first time. It's always been there: an asymmetrical patch of skin on the back of her neck. Her hair was pinned up, and she happened to turn her head while walking away from a mirror. She had never realized that it was slighty pinker, redder, than the surrounding skin. Of course she had known it was there. It is thinner-feeling, the texture (slightly, very slightly) more crepe-like. It is recessed as if embossed.

All this she knows from having reached behind her neck herself (in thought, perhaps) and from feeling lovers' fingers brush past it.

It is not important, but she wonders why none of them had ever told her of its pale rose color. Was it always too dim to see? Did they think she already knew? Did they not think it was worth commenting on? And really it isn't.

fimmtudagur, janúar 04, 2007

í næturskógunum

Anyone can have nightmares. Borges had dream tigers. I picture them (and I blame Wm. Blake for this) glowing like ingots, stalking through the trees, the hot flicker of them lighting the undersides of dark leaves. Maybe they leave a ruddy path on the forest floor, crossing and crossing again until it gleams a dull red like in Kjarval's Skógarhöllin.

Maybe the tigers have just passed.

(Sometimes I see horses like this, but only from far off. I am on a plain, and in the not-too-distant distance a smudge of forest is visible. It is only a line of green-black, but I know it is a deep forest. Under the edgemost canopy I can see the horses moving about. They are burning with high orange flame, but they are not consumed, and they do not singe the boughs above them.)

miðvikudagur, janúar 03, 2007


Do old lovers remember our bodies? Do they remember the contours and weights of us? Do they think of us in the dark or in the daytime? Do phantoms of our physical presence loom up before them on certain days of the year? Do they remember how it felt to touch us and how it felt when we touched them, and which would we have them remember if we had to choose?

þriðjudagur, janúar 02, 2007

í stað

Steady, steady ---

I have only just noticed that this word contains the old word stead, place, Icelandic staður. It's rare now in English. Of course, it is in the word instead, which is not so dissimilar from Icelandic í stað (fyrir), Norwegian i stedet for or istedenfor.

(I've never understood the matter of gender there: is it et sted or en sted? Elsewhere in the language it is et sted, but that doesn't accord with the masculine gender of Old Norse staðr. What happened? Has there been, dare I ask, a shift?)

Instead is about coming into the place of something else and that something else leaving. Steady is about moving as if one were not moving, as if one were staying in one place. Isn't it curious that the venerable stead should have stuck in words no longer about place?

Then there is steadfast. No one uses that word anymore. But, then, everything moves, jerkily or steadily, onward, and new things come to replace old ones.

mánudagur, janúar 01, 2007




"There! Did you see it?"

"I'm not sure."

"Oh ... it was beautiful."
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