Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ancestral Home

It is light already
when dawn comes to the day.
Wind blows across the Denmark Strait,
sweeps spray onto the shore
at Keflavik where planes assemble
and depart in Arctic mist and rain.

We come in clouds,
stained by the morning sun,
descend to the sea,
to visit our ancestral home,
to see the church at Kross
where Grandpa Christian
got a blessing and a name.
When he was a man,
he went to the Westlands,
got a another name
that few in Iceland knew.

The old house, patriarchal in its mien,
stands stalwart in the grass
at Arnarholl. It is the house
where Groa lives. She knows
it only as the home
that always has been hers,
and wonders if, somehow, we are related
since my folk lived here before,
but cannot see a likeness in my face.

She does not know
that once the house
on Eagle Hill bulged with love,
echoed with laughter,
that children ran
through summer sunlight,
shouting at the terns
that mocked them.

The gulls are there still,
but none know where
the children went,
except for two, one folded
in the cheerless turf at Reykjavik,
the other, Grandpa Christian
on the lonely plains
where Blackfeet ruled
and buffalo once roamed.

Wind takes the measure
of its province--the weathered
heights of Iceland’s snow,
the willows on Milk River.
But it, too, goes away,
and like the breath of life
becomes the breathing of the past.

D. Gary Christian
Santa Clara, Utah
June 2, 2005

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