Odin & Baldr (poem)

Odin & Baldr

The High One heard the lowest prophecy:
already riddled with the worst of dreams,
his boy Baldr would be killed by his brother.
And worse: another brother would avenge
him, family hacking down family.
And worse: these murders would lead to the end,
to three winters of war and three more years
of only winter, and all swept away.

Old grey Odin went to the Underworld
and avoided the hall to call on the graves,
and he raised there a reluctant seeress
who complained, “I am covered in winters,
I am covered in mornings and evenings,
how dare you wake me from this my long death.
You know already what you would deny:
mead down here is being brewed for Baldr,
for your boy, the dead hall and the high seat
are being readied for him, for the world’s
folding over—for your own death, Odin.”

And at Baldr’s funeral the High One
held this knowledge close as the pyre went up,
as the burning ship was pushed to water,
as it was given to wind and the earth,
as Odin bent and whispered to his boy
what none could hear and few would ever know,
mourning for a son, a family, a world,
the heavy inevitability.

Originally published in Literary Juice