All in by Emily Hockaday

by Emily Hockaday

In Viking sagas, language is

roundabout. A sword is a blood

worm; blood battle sweat. Is it this

that made me a poet? Around

my finger: a ring of Frejya’s tears bind

us. Your blood is also of Viking

descent. In Iceland we blend in

with the locals, drinking heavy

beers, eating fish stew, until they hear

us speak: Is this also where my gift

for circumlocution stems? You tell me

you love me and I describe all the ways

in which I would have made a good

conqueror. You don’t argue. We

look out over the glacial mountains

(stone teeth, ice trolls, snow knives)

and beneath, the lava (Earth’s blood,

Surtr’s misery, liquid flame) lies

in wait; there is always seismic

activity here, no matter how stable

or frozen the land appears.


Emily Hockaday is author of three chapbooks—Ophelia: A Botanist's Guide, What We Love & Will Not Give Up, and Starting a Life—with a fourth, Beach Vocabulary, forthcoming from Red Bird Chaps. Her work has appeared in a number of journals including the North American Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Newtown Literary, and most recently the Maine Review. She can be found on the web at and @E_Hockaday.