Reading the Runes
Joseph Anthony Petro
Scatter bits of twigs to the ground,
Look up through moon-lit branches,
Get eye-level with blades of grass,
Study the kindling before it feeds the fire,
Observe the antlers of the silent deer,
Notice the positions of sleeping loved-ones,
Stop and consider wooden fences along the roadside—
Have any of the beams fallen creating a nied or kenaz?
Trace the markings of river rocks,
Contemplate graffiti and the drawings of children,
What do you cast when you hastily arrange the silverware?
Pause and pluck a moment of time,
Give thanks to Odin swung nine nights from the windswept ash,
Then read the way lines line up and down around you anywhere—
Everywhere below and above—books on shelves,
Pencils on desks, the hair in front of your eyes–
Look at the lines in your own hand—see the myriad crisscrossing runes.
We are surrounded—yes, we are
Part of the fabric—yes, we are
Living letters in skin and bone,
Stories written in flesh and blood.
What is it our every day frenzies prophecy?
What is it we say when we dance?
What divinations do our movements betray?
What messages are we writing on the pages of the world?
What spells are we casting just by walking?
How will they position our arms when we die?
Odin—send your ravens and believe we are trying
To gather the wisdom you bestowed on our lot,
See our way through the falling forest,
And welcome us home once this chapter is done.