Darkness Out Of Fire
(From Hela, To Her Father)
By R. Kaldera
As the eldest, I was the luckiest.
I had the two of them the longest, content
In my mother’s hall – she like the hearthfire
That never burned out, but sometimes flared up,
He like the sun that came and went.
Two matched fires so hot, so passionate
That they almost made the coldness in me melt,
Or come close to it, on rare occasion.
I watched in silence as their love raged
And bloomed by turns; two so volatile could not
Dwell in quiet contentment, but I could see
How much they craved it. Each other’s addiction,
Even coming to blows would mean pelting into bed.
They loved their children just as passionately
And loudly; I tumbled on the floor with my brother
And slapped him when he ate the bones
I had so carefully reassembled from the midden heap,
And our sister-brother, like a live toy, carried
On exploits through the forest. Yet I could see
In my parents’ faces, the looks they turned on me.
They loved me, yes, but awe stood there as well,
And put a strange distance between us. When I grew
Chest-high, and my skin-swift form began to rot,
My mother told me to stay away from the kitchen,
But still stroked my cheek. You, father, took me
On your lap as you had done before, never mind the scent
Of Death, and kissed me, though your eyes watered,
And pretended it was tears.
I do not dwell on the day when our home was broken,
My siblings imprisoned, and I began the journey
Through cold and snow to seek my destiny. I knew
It was at least half your doing, that your tangled wyrd had
Shattered ours, but once I reached the gates of my true home
I knew that my own would protect me now. So I can forgive,
Save for my one act of vengeance, and that is over now,
And my brother’s pain, the breaking of our homefire avenged.
I never inherited your fire. My blood hearkened back to Her,
Our first ancestress born of the sleeping icy mountain-sire,
She whose cold hand stirs the waters of the highest Well,
I was once her second daughter, before Death died.
Now I am yours, and mother to none of my body
But thousands of souls to care for. I sing dead babes to sleep
With love taught to me by a fickle trickster and an ungentle
Wolf-woman, yet if you were as they say, could this gift
You gave to me that I give every day to others,
Hundreds, thousands, could it be so strong and true?
You taught me how to love without judgment, as if you knew
That one day it would be my daily task, to stretch a cold heart
So wide open that it would hold a million souls.