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Norse Code

April 6, 2011

by Sarah Neely

If you really look you see the simmering foam
unfurling between sky and earth.
You see the birds dive upwards to the clifftop’s edge
and the Norseman’s message, that drifted there
over time, fallen from the Broch of Birsay.

If you really listen you hear it in the breath from the North
as it whistles through faultlines of basalt
and groans from the deep rising surges of the sea.

The Norseman’s message is hidden there
between clouds as they shift against the horizon,
between the gasps of wind, first long then short,
and the tap, tap, tap at the window.

The Norseman’s message is written in blue lines
between edges of horizon and sea,
and the low cosmic hum stretched out
like strings on the ancient violin,
between sand bars and the whistling wind.

The Norseman’s message is in the Westray stone,
etched out by the delicate claws of the sea eagle.
In fine tracks of glitter that wind their way around its edges:
hinting at the light within.

But you have to look.
You must stand at the cliff’s edge
over algae slick rock and quaking bog,
against temperamental winds
and the gulls sweeping forth from under your feet,
circling you the way you’ve seen them do at the very top of Storr.
You must, if you wish to see the great tumult of water and light
and the energy that drives it that just is.


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Sarah Neely lives in Glasgow, Scotland and is currently writing a book on the Orcadian filmmaker and poet, Margaret Tait.

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  1. Daniel
    May 12, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Lovely atmospheric poem and beautifully read!

    • dann aguilar
      June 14, 2011 at 6:45 am

      Yes its nice……

  1. May 9, 2011 at 3:32 pm
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