Sole Shield of Geats

Ever since the fortieth winter

the wind bit sharper, like splinters

from sea vessels’ weather-hulls

that bristle and peel with the gathered salt

of many storm-waved sojourns.


Each winter that passed, the thunderheads

that drift away above sent colder rains

on my unhelmed, uncrowned brow.

The rain rolled down my beard and splashed

on my mailshirt’s silver rings––froze

the worn, wearing flesh that clothes

the burning blood paths by the bone-lappings.

Blizzards bout the mead hall again and again

but my hearth fire blazes, warm, still.


Until: blaze broke stillness when the sky-spit molten fires fell:

thanes’ scorched shields crashed, shredded by the ring-hoarder, the worm dreaded

who spat his scouring breath on our roofs –– scorned my fifty winters and the peace I built.

I, ring-giver, peace-winner, will be dragon-slayer.


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