The Lost Commander
(Viking Longship Burial in Ardnamurchan, Scotland)

by Michael Brett

Place your trust in the lost commander:

Beneath gale force clouds migrating like zebra,
Let us descend to his safer place.
Down the staircase to his cabin, his burial chamber:

Where each step folds blue cloth to blindness,
Trades a fragile light for a questing death
In a tomb of words and searching
That places no trust in stained glass worlds filled with
Noah's Arks or St Peter's keys;

For everything is glass outside: the houses, the people in the street,
Even the clouds spread above our heads are like X-rays on glass plates.

Let the ship's prow and the tumulus dragons, earth and wooden snakes
With floating jaws gorge us
Into his palace, with all the other lazy dead
Who call to the indifferent to forget them
In the dead languages of patience and disbelief, each
Tapping like oars on the armoured Atlantic.

Place your trust in the lost commander:

Crew his ship's rigging, the spider cords aligning him
With power and Polaris, with black mountains,
With hunched and muscled Stone Age tombs:

In the belly of his longship; in his long barrow,
Lean forward and share his looted safety
Like Byzantine gold coins, up to the elbows.

Copyright © 2012 - Michael Brett
Published: 9/13/12   ·  Author's Page   ·  Next Poem