Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Leifur and the Westlands

Leifur was a rowdy man.
He knew the perils of the sea,
and war that culls the herds of men.
When he heard Bjarni sailed
to Eirik’sfjord from Eyrarbakki
and saw an unknown land with forests
taller than the heights of Hekla,
imagination tugged at his desire.
He sought adventure and
the riches of respect,
the wealth of what the unknown,
far away had hidden in the silence
of its cryptic promise.

He purchased Bjarni’s boat,
sailed toward the western sky
where clouds are made.
They searched the sea. Bjarni
left no trail upon the waves.
His reckoning was sunless days
and how the ocean tasted.

The shore at Helluland was bare and broken.
At Markland, the sea drank rivers
spurting from the ice and snow.
Trees gathered at the water’s edge
like giants making muster when the Giallar horn
calls gods to Ragnarok. Skraelings,
dark and glowering, skulked
among the ferns and in the ivy.

Vinland was a buxom land,
voluptuous and sweeter
than an Icelandic maiden’s lips.
It sagged with nature’s goodness
rich upon the branches of the trees
and ripe upon the drooping vines.

They wintered on the windy plain
of L’Anse aux Meadows. When the sun
had driven frost to where the daylight ends,
they gathered grapes and timber,
took them as their bona fides
for the stories of adventure
that their brothers might believe.

When Leifur and his men
returned to Iceland,
he was called “The Lucky,”
for whim of fortune
had attended to his need.
It crowned him with a greater fame
than even Eirik knew.
And so, to Saints, not ruffian gods,
he offered recompense in prayer
on bended knee as he
fingered sacred beads at Kross.

D. Gary Christian
Santa Clara, Utah
February 22, 2008

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