You know that feeling well,
when incomprehensible streets
greet your first steps
and a breath of woodsmoke and foreign leaves
awaken various states of disorientation.
Under the strange sheets of temporary homes,
getting off the road, a coffee’s respite
awaits those who roam through the element’s assault.
Arctic Terns and the road seems to go on and on,
each vista eclipsing the last gasp
from the sea to the snow capped peaks.
There is thought, there is action
and on a fog blurred ridge line
they become entwined
in a swirling yin and yang with the sky,
how each can obscure and direct the other.
The imagination was a point of entry,
in Kjarval’s studio
where a tenuous reality meets fantasy,
the canvass becomes an extension of nature,
a weathered glimmer behind the mind’s eye,
a shifting moodscape of faces
in rock formations and lucent turf.
This sudden shift can unearth
from the inanimate a movement
that gazing inward
reveals and gives shape to.
Folk tales lead us through Horgadalur,
where half wild horses are prone to majestic pauses
by the swollen rivers of lore.
The regal falls, the rush of water
through clefts in penetrable moors,
completes the jagged unity of rock and valley.
While we in our tiny vehicle
become merely a pebble
in the volcanic masonry
of landscape and now memory.
At the inlet of Kista
the sea recedes back centuries
to reveal the unspeakable cruelty
done to those condemned for sorcery.
Driftwood fires leave black marks on the Strandir,
the impassible cliffs
where Basque ships
strand sailors to unforgiving coasts,
where power mad hosts wrote edicts
and pursue them like wolves,
leaving bodies bloodied on an isolated shore.
In the Westfjords, the pastoral eloquence of sheep
give way to a violence bubbling underneath.
In its history it is much of the same.
Fleeting is the light in a narrative
that is dark more often than not
but we never saw it this way,
catching Iceland’s capricious rays
in the sky, like a precious
sigh of relief,
knowing this time is brief,
this travel only temporal,
lives soon to be fractured again,
like the land beneath
that makes room for the new,
though it may assume physical separation,
it leaves us with an indelible impression,
pictures and letters to draw on
to complete a path back.