I say to the gods,
I have wedded this blade
and will take no other wife
I have bones for her bride-price
and a barrow for our bed
and the blood of our enemies
to dress us both in red.
It's hard to recall now the man that I was then
returning from raiding across the wide sea;
My heart full of pride and our ship full of plunder,
I watched for the strand where my stead watched for me.
We thought it was fog-- and that out of season--
that cloaked our fierce prow and swallowed our wake.
But the thicker it grew, the more it smelled of burning.
We pulled the oars then till we feared they would break.
We made groundfall; it seemed a hundred years later.
When we could see clearly we wished we were blind.
Our steadings were broken and bloody and barren;
We knew from our raiding what else we would find.
We wandered like wolves through the ashes of kinsmen.
The crows mocked our howling to long-deafened ears.
he stink of death sickened me nigh unto retching.
We salted the earth of our dead with our tears.
Some say I'm mad now, but I'm only enamored
of my new shining bride and her face in the light.
She weeps that she's thirsty, and I live to please her--
we search for her slaking through day and through night.
Where a wraith goes, only wind marks its passing,
but where a man goes, a good bear-dog can track.
And I'll hound them until the last wears the blood-eagle
carved like a lover's knot deep in his back.
© Karen L.U. Kahan 2002
Notes on this song:Sometimes, when a person writes a song (or practoices any kind of art, I
imagine...) they write the song. But other times, they just happen to be
holding the pen when the song writes itself. The latter is the case with
this song. In fact, the first time I was holding the pen, I saw where the
song was going and stopped writing it in horror.
That never works, though, and it kept at me until I picked up the pen again
Don't know what a blood-eagle is? Look it up. It's too gross to talk about.
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