When I rowed third oar in my uncle’s boat
We used to raid all along this coast
And burn the houses of the Christians.
I am not an incurious man;
These were strange people. They gave me much to think about.
Why would a man give up women for any god?
Why would he worship a god who let men spit at him and strike him?
And then I considered Odin and how he hung himself on the tree
And all for knowledge. Now we live in the land
This is the place where we trade, farm, fish- where we raise our children
And it cannot be war all the time. Our king has had conversations
With the bishop- a fine, brave man
Who says a man can be washed in water in the name of Christ
And become like a child- It’s a thought that pleases me.
I have done many things in my life that make me sad.
To be frank I do not want what’s been promised us by our own gods.
All that fighting, bragging, feasting- that’s a heaven for young men
And I have been tamed by Time. I have grandsons. I like quiet best,
Sitting in my daughter’s house, hearing the hum of the wheel as she spins,
I walked out yesterday beyond the houses to the beach where the nets are hung
And saw the raven of Odin perched on a stake.
He tipped his head at me and fixed me with his very bright eye
And then he spoke. And what I heard him say was “knowledge”.