15. October, 2016
Reykjavík quivers with the adrenaline rush of the last outpost before the apocalyptic nomansland. From the harbor I look across the bay toward an iron chain of mountains, the unmanned bulwark between the city and the untamed volcanoes and geysers of the north. Between the city’s church spires, distant mountain peaks skewer the clouds, and even Hallgrimmskirkja, the lone cathedral, looks anemic and stunted beneath the glacial Icelandic sky.
From the peninsula on the other side of the city, I can see across the water to the geothermal fields, where the boiling ichor of the Underworld spumes up in white gouts. The bay is molten pewter, pure and untouchable. Beyond the mountains, the clouds are ragged and threadbare where light tears through and leaves deep scratches in the sky.
Winter’s scourge has flayed the trees. The new Undead—Birch, Ash, and Rowan—fill the city parks with the restless grating of dry bones. These unburried skeletons choke the cemetery, where a panic of songbirds shrieks over stale death. I feel as if I am walking through a graveyard of old acquaintances, for the names on the stones are borrowed from Sagas I read in a nest of blankets last winter: it is a graveyard of Bjorns, Gislis, and Guðruns. I trace potentially-heroic lineages not by family names (a rare import on this island), but by Icelandic patronyms: Bjorn Snorrisson, Hrafn Bjornsson, Svanhild Hrafnsdóttir. The graveyard is a Saga in itself, a litany of lineages that all end in death. Their bones are planted in the earth, and from their ribcages grow stones who tell their stories.