Gryla’s Eve

A poem from my first collection ‘One of Many Knots.’



Gryla’s Eve

I sight pieces of sheep wool, pots, doors, sausages, meat hooks,

curd, cold candles, cow ears, shredded clothes,

bread crusts, books, firewood, settled in flaky drifts.


My 13 lads have taken their share,

left coal and old potatoes from family sheds

to fill little shoes, when sun shows its ugly bright face.


My feet forge gorges into nobbly snowbanks,

mountains laboured with frozen vapour, tremble as I pound past,

erupting geysers sit silent while I push my path.


Behind my hunch, northern lights shimmer

as though something higher than I is counting jade treasure.

I stub out loud, showy lamp lights with tough thumbs,

force stars upside down with the inside of my mouth,

tip ‘tidings of goodwill’ with each of my 15 tails.


Children know, when their large eyelashes flicker,

tired eyes inch painfully open

to muted light, they wonder

what is the point of it all?


Bewildered parents

shall feel tricked, mystified.

They are finished, they are finished.


And I, with 20 childhoods

in each one of my 100 sacks

shall never die.