Tag Archives: North Iceland

The Art of Cairns

When you are caught by a veið, or a plane of gaping energy, that can devour you without a trace…

… where everything (and soon you too) is thrown, or strewn, around without sense…

… it’s best to create memory, and sense, or you will be lost, literally. Cairns like the one below are the Parthenons of Iceland. Don’t touch.

And don’t make more! That would be like destroying Shakespeare.


Even if the highway-building crew starts it, please resist translating cairns, energy gathered from throws to make wide space close, into an image of yourself as witness. This isn’t magic or art. It’s architecture and language. The path to history through them should remain open. If not, why go to Iceland?

~

Images from between Hafragilsfoss and Dettifoss, as well as on Highway 85 to Vopnafjörður.

Beautiful Raufarhöfn

This graveyard in a part of Iceland rarely visited fills me with joy. The church, like so many, is an imported thing, steeped in nationalism, colonialism and paternity, but the graveyard, ah, that is 1100 years living all at once.

And in a way that has no words, at least not yet. To date, it exceeds the capacity of the literary writers of Reykjavik, far to the southwest, but I like to think that some kid, alone here just below the Arctic Circle, is living the moments right now that in a decade or two will give it voice. What a day to look forward to!

 

The Best Way to Approach the Sea

Sideways, so sly?

Or head on, so bold?

With a house for company?

With a fence for (ha ha) protection?

Or with a sandbar to still that water down until it turns to swans?

In snow?

In the midnight sun?

From halfway down a ridiculous cliff called, for some reason, a road?

From the land of the dead at the bottom of the cliff?

Among muck-raking sheep?

From the city?

From a place on no map?

From a boat?

From a coal mine?

With a lighthouse?

Through a gate while tipping over in the wind (a common affliction)?

On a lazy evening when horses come to visit and refuse to eat your apples because they’ve never encountered such a strange thing before?

At the end of the road?

Without a road at all?

When the sea turns to silver?

When silver turns to the sea?

When the sky rains gold?

Over the mouth of a river?

Or when the sea flows into a river’s mouth and speaks of deep mystery?

These are the mysteries of people who live after the landing that makes firm ground out of waves that, wouldn’t you know, is not so firm after all. Yeah, best, maybe to just wade out with the trolls.

Waiting for whatever comes!