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 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.