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Improvisation on Gimli

Quarterlight, spilt from the grey jaws of the lake, the day flashes its brindle coat.

I haven’t been here in years, where the wind calmly scours the bones And the landscape shows us its tonsure, its loose hair-shirt. Where nothing climbs, any clear cathedral Must be laid like rabbit fencing, A heel-pressed grace.

I think of my grandmother Crossing in her snowshoes This atlas of snow To visit the farm Of an old Communist

Who showed her half-secret Books whose pageswere Cut first in Russia Carried hidden in Apple crates stuffed with straw

Obscure teachers she sat With under the brambles Of a history Drifting like flotsam. She learned to hate guilt.

It was a line she took For her own, fashioned It like a guitar string Laid it out, drew it Tight. We lay on hands.

Palms upward, Pressing close the calendar of years And early evening coming on

I lay my face to the possibility of the next season When this place will wear the burning fields like the hem of a gown

What will be found in the scorched ground White stone, broken blade, old tooth, or Something else.

Improvisation on Gimli  

This poem has previously appeared in the Icelandic Connection magazine.