miðvikudagur, janúar 30, 2008

í brautinni

I think the front left wheel had simply rolled off right there in the passing lane. It was dark, but I think I saw it tipped on its side a few feet past the bumper. I did see the empty wheel well and the chassis tipped forward like a horse that had staggered and fallen onto one knee. No driver in sight. Someone had set out a line of pink, smoking flares. There were no police, no flashing lights, just a procession of cars making the same swerve to the right and then back over and over again without stopping. I found myself feeling badly, like I should go over and over to help it back up, but I was on my way somewhere too.

sunnudagur, janúar 27, 2008


I only just saw it: a bit of fur in the dusty corner between the brick wall and the cold metal door frame. It looked like the scrap of an animal someone had crumpled up and carelessly discarded after using only once.

There was a quick breath pulsing in it, some life in the furry pouch after all. A small brown bat. I disturbed it: it began clambering on its tenterhook wrists across the pavement to the flowerbed. I did not leave until it had hooked its way a double hand's-breadth up the wall and bivouaced head-down from a meager twist of vine.

When I came back, after dark, it was gone.

mánudagur, janúar 21, 2008


Skyldi grafa Bobby Fischer í þjóðgrafreitnum á Þingvöllum? Hvað gengur að fólki?

Var Fischer þjóðarhetja? Hvað gerði hann fyrir þjóðina á borð við skáldin Jónas Hallgrímsson og Einar Benediktsson? Var hann yfirhöfuð Íslandsvinur? Af því að hann er orðinn eins konar eilífur konungur skáksins?

Ég efist um það, að Ísland hafi gott af því, að annar konungur mygli í jörð Frónsins. Hrærekr réði í Heiðmörk fyrr en Óláfr helgi blindaði hann og sendi til Íslands, sér til öryggis. Sagan segir (Óláfs saga helga í Heimskringlu, K 85) að sá einn konungr hvíli á Íslandi.

Hrærekr var ekki Íslandsvinur frekar en Fischer var, bara óvinur aðrar þjóðar, einmitt eins og Fischer. Hann var ekkert merkilegur sem maður þó að hann hefði verið konungur í Heiðmörk; Fischer var ekkert betri manneskja þó að hann hefði verið konungur á skákborðinu. Hrærekur varð blindur og illur meðan Fischer varð illur og blindur á annan hátt, siðblindur, og gyðingahatur streymdi upp úr honum í áratugir.

Samkvæmt Landinu þínu Íslandi var Hrærekur heygður nálægt Kirkjubæjarklaustri. Ég hef komið þar og séð hauginn. Hann er ekki mikill og ekki höfðingjalegur í laginu. Mér finnst það passa ágætlega.

Mér er eiginlega sama þó Fischer verði grafinn á Íslandi. Láta hann fá reit, venjulegan reit einhvern stað. Hann tók sinn hlut af merkilegum reitum meðan hann teflði gegn Kasparov. Nú er það búið. Gröfum hann og gleymum.

sunnudagur, janúar 20, 2008


laugardagur, janúar 19, 2008


When it's this cold after a few warmer days, the streets are dry but edged with crackly white. It is salt rime more than hoarfrost. It is not too slick to cycle over.

Hoar is the English cognate of ON hár. It is the first element of Óðin's psuedonym Hárbarðr, if that name means "greybeard." According to Douglas Harper the word remains in German as the honorific Herr. That would mean it is also in Dutch in Mynheer (or more properly mijnheer -- my Anglicized spelling is from the stories of Washington Irving). This means that the word is in Old Norse twice, once as hár and again as the honorific herra, "lord," borrowed in from an earlier form of German.

Rime is old, too. It might be related to ON rim, rail, though I'm not sure whether a rim can be horizontal. It might be related to rimi, a raised strip of land. I will think of this, now, when I go rattling over the broken pavement pushed up by frost heaves and crusted with salt.

mánudagur, janúar 14, 2008

á staðnum

Non-place, non-time. In transit in an anonymous coffee house chain I find I have no idea what timezone I am in. I stare at the readout on my cellphone, the one that reflects a self-updating internal clock, and try to work the absurdly simple math back and forth. As a result, I know what time it is on the spot, but I am not sure where that spot it. The relative temporal position of other people whose spatial location I am sure of I cannot figure.

I struggle with this for---twenty minutes? In any case until I am called for boarding and jet off into places even less place-like.

þriðjudagur, janúar 01, 2008


No bells, no ringing, but the first shouts and buzzes from noisemakers are accompanied by a sudden gust of wind that lashes the first drops of this year's rain against the windows. A few fireworks pop and hiss, and the first siren whines some blocks away. Black tree branches are tossing against the soft-seeming, pinkish gray. They are, modestly, beautiful.
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