In Nordic mythology Sleipnir is Odin’s steed, the foal of Loki and Svaðilfari

 

I am fastened to the skim-race of a sly night.

Shadows fall, tin pots clank, slab-roofs trill.

My eyelids stutter. A silhouette before me – equine-like,

up-folded wings, serrations of fine spine-feathers.

A shadow-foal, a rider with a ghost-drawn face, lines

ploughed by a brazen sun or a blistering frost.

 

There’s the fit-fickle thunder-hiss of a merciless wind: all clinker,

the slag of irradiated soil, metal shards, eyelets, pinions,

grease, the multifarious detritus of battle. Odin seeks his revenge.

 

I run from the ankle-snatch of tumbleweed. Weightless. Slipping

through a crack of light, I cross the threshold

in a screech, as if all nesting owls have been released.

In the dark, I see the white moons of the yearling,

grey-iris eyes, sheen coat, eight legs folded, scapula

to navicular: hock, cannon, splint. Sleipnir quivers.

 

Flash as sharp – the wind’s fist beats. Lumber-split,

blink-motes float from a roofless sky. I gather the tack:

saddle, stirrup, bit, harness. We are horse, rider, myth,

stumbling over scattered slats, the footprint of a god forged

of smoulder. Fort, bastion, stockade, ash. We pass

a severed hearth where only a black kettle sings.

 

Following old miners’ routes, cattle-tracks, we head into

for the hawk-slayer hills as Odin curses the lapis sky

with stealth-winds of malice, venom, spite.

 

Striding the scrub-clenched land, streak-maned,

all bit-spit thirst, eight hooves beat, pelt ripples

– the colt of Loki is full-plumed for flight. Slip-reining,

we slow, unbuckling, wings loosen, angling down as

Odin’s war winds lose their tether, curlicues evaporate

before the red-shined ore, the isinglass.

 

A wink of mica, a single star. We slip beneath Earth’s cradle.

 

 

 

 

alison lock photo

 

Alison Lock is a poet and author living in West Yorkshire, UK. She writes short stories, poetry, and is the author of a fantasy novella. Her recent publications are: a short story collection, A Witness of Waxwings (2017) Cultured Llama Publishing; and a collection of poetry, Revealing the Odour of Earth (2017) Calder Valley Poetry.

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