Late One Icelandic Afternoon

Not the holiday destination but Halldór Laxness
the snow-wrapped mental angst of Erlendur
the misty procession of longboats off Akureyi
the past, the past, always present
in the now that never seems to get noticed.

How many people have passed this storefront window
carrying the souls of their history into a future?
What makes Odin hanging from the clouds so much more compelling
than Pamela making her way through an unknown Wednesday?

“Simple,” says the clerk
(I wasn’t aware I had spoken aloud).
She’s twenty, piercing the winter rain with pink hair.
“We remake the past” she says, “but the future remakes us.”

The rain drums against the window,
a biblical force, running down the glass
like words on a scrolling screen, and I finally
understand that this is what Laxness meant when he wrote
“the very first time I looked into the labyrinth of the human soul.”


©2019 by Joseph Kenyon

Joseph Kenyon is a poet and fiction writer who teaches in Philadelphia. His first novel, All The Living And The Dead, was published in 2016.

One Comment on “Late One Icelandic Afternoon

  1. Really outstanding. I liked the line about how the future remakes us. Thanks Joseph!


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