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~ By Courtesy of Others ~

 

Odin

You have to look resolutely behind
the masks and the many names,
take off the veneer of subtleties
and polish away all those centuries
of misinformation and superstitionó
what youíre left with, though,
for all its authenticity, is even scarier,
His wolves watch you knowingly.
The croaks from the two dark ravens,
keenly aware of your expressions and
sitting on either of his cloaked shoulders,
only underscore the weirdness, or maybe
wyrdness, the absolute fact that even
with one steel-gray eye, he can still
see right through you, behind your eyes
and out the other side of your mind.
Or at least, thatís the impression
he likes to give, when heís treating
with those of us whose feelings
about him are mostly ambiguousó
which is practically everyone.
I confess, first seeing him there, alive
and vital on his throne, the vaulting
roof of his hall of warriors overhead,
I was torn between admiration and
that respect I owe to such as he,
and a stone-cold fury that floated,
like Mimirís dreaming head in the well,
between my heart and my loins.

I remember, my anger whispered softly
burning too hot for me to speak.
There is the image in my mind of Loki,
chained to three rocks and covered in ichors,
but also the image of my beloved
walking slowly towards a perfectly still,
hanging shadow beneath spreading boughs.
Another image, the two of them
lying under nightís secret dark,
tangled in bliss, bloodstained arms twined
and splashed with moonlight and sweat,
very far away from the shining halls,
undiscovered by those who would have slain
both of them, if they had known.
And there is the knowledge that although
we truly never met before, he knows me
for what I really am, and seething anger
that comes from an old wound, a grudge
reflected against his calm, one-eyed gaze
long before these many years had fallen
to reveal the one which held my birth.
If I were to ask everyone who knows him
what they think, Iíd get so many answers
that no single judgment could be made.
This pleases him the most, I thinkó
the ability to let no one, not even those
who love him most of all, understand
the fullness and depth of his mysteries.

He is the flint and his brother, the spark.
He is the sword and his wife, the key.
He is battle-madness, breathing death
while others stand ranged there and here
to carry his bidding and his words out,
out into the Nine Worlds, like those lost
drops of the poetís draught, for better
or for what may be infinitely worse.
He is sacrifice, and what lies trembling,
waiting on the altar to be made headless
and to have its blood emptied away.
And while I cannot, will not, will never
embrace him wholeheartedly, while I canít
ignore the marks left upon my raw heart
and those left on the heart of my love,
while I do, indeed, presume to say
you cannot always be right, Old Man,
neither can I wholly turn my back on him,
and not merely for a lack of trust.
Just because the storm may kill you
with its winds and raging power,
its bolts of lightning and its flooding
in no way removes the terrible awe
whipped into your awareness by its might,
nor does the danger and fear erase
that wild ecstasy that infects the soul,
even when itís held at armís length.

© Elisabeth Vongvisith

Published in her book "Love and Shadows", available at Asphodel Press.

Twilight and Fire - Mysticism, devotion, and explorations of the heart.
 

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