I wrote this poem after hiking in the cold and then listening to a sermon by our talented Pastor, Reverend Nancy McDonald Ladd who spoke of the Nordic creation story.
This poem is in draft form and does not appear in the first volume of Battlefield poems. It probably will be included in a revised version in the second volume which I know I am compelled to write.
Please note the stanzas have not been broken up because I do not have the know-how to insert the proper HTML code.
In the beginning, they, the Vikings—
those surviving the Scandinavian cold,
those we visualize in helmets and horns,
those wearing bronze-hued chest plates—
in the beginning, say the Vikings,
there was war between frost giant and god ,
war that birthed the Earth, violent Earth, warring
Earth, Earth of blood-soaked battlefields, Earth
renewed by murder. In the beginning, they later believed,
after the Christ-bearers came, there were gardens and trees,
water, apples, serpent, a spiritual fall leaving us all dangling
like spiders on thin webs over brimstone, humans
condemned to hell, revived through crucifixion,
then dead in the Coliseum. The waste of our love
and kin lay in graves and sepulchers, our history
in books of tears and brief triumphs, our walks
through wasteland and wheat. And millenniums later,
I hike a winter’s trail, warding off wind beating
already beaten fields. I study snowy placards bearing
scratched photos of Brawner’s Farm, a tree’s memory
of the Black hat Brigade, a thousand killed or wounded
to cries that only war can rebuild a nation.
Did they know the Nordic stories?
Did they believe in Valhalla?
Did they think there was only crucifixion?
“Stop asking questions,” they say, loading
their cannons and courage. “Our ancestors
taught us well. This is the way it will end.
For the entire world is built atop the dead.”
Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt
January 3, 2010