When the wind blows at hurricane force, it lifts the cloud from Snæfellsjökull. The glacier on the volcano’s peak captures the sun and beams it up to the clouds.
This is one of the central images from my new book: Landings: Poems from Iceland. It contains poems written on a trip across Iceland. Many were written in Grundarfjörður, after this glorious day trying to stay vertical in the lava fields.
While driving on the north shore of the Lagarfljót east of Gunnar’s house, I was keeping an eye out for the Wyrm who lives there. At first, I was convinced that the river of cloud holding above the lake was Wyrm enough for me.
I presume that the Wyrm is projecting this magical eye into the sky above the lake. I guess I might be looking for dragons, but that’s not to say they aren’t keeping an eye out for me.
Out on the hraun, you are living in the open universe. The Earth’s shadow was amazing, that we left, not towards the golden light shining from across Breidafjördur, but into the shadow, deeper and deeper. It was like swimming in the sky.
In the North East of Iceland, there is a cape with Eidars and puffins, called Raudanes, or Red Cape. “Nes” is an old term for a nes, or nose, of land, in the same way that mountains have shoulders, backs and arms, continents have icecaps, mountains have jökulls, as the Icelanders say, little jackets of ice, little land-based icebergs, or glaciers, and seacoasts, like mountains, have caps, or heads. On the coast, these caps are capes, in English, and they often have noses.
This is the nose of Red Nose itself. One notes that it is a dragon. Now, how fine is that!
Well, Grótfjall is a handsome mountain, to be sure. Viewing it from the Njardvik Beach, its easy enough to see that some of it is down here, making the valley floor, rather than up in the sky, making its hat.
But what’s that on the mountain? A dragon? And isn’t the sod collapsing over the cliff into sea, its wings? And aren’t there dragon shapes a-plenty, in the wet-dry patterning of the cliff? You tell me. I just know that walking through this fjord as a dragon story makes every relationship significant, in the way every word and sound in poetry means more than the poem’s sense.
If nothing else, it reveals the more of the mountains lies on the shore than in the air. A flat mountain. That’s a fine experience in climbing! But, wait, isn’t that a troll peeking out from the bottom of the cliff on the left? What’s his story?
It is good to remember that humans are prey. It keeps us on our toes.