By Megan Willome
Three Good Years
And so we had three good years—
Lavrans, Kristin, little Ulvhild, and I.
Three years when I was happy—
when I could hug my children
without the constant fear of losing them
like I lost my three sons in the cradle.
Three years when I could sleep with my husband,
not stay out all night in the old loft,
weeping, moaning, wringing my hands.
They once said I had the loveliest voice,
but I can’t remember the last time I sang,
despite their pleas.
And then came my brother, with that huge black ox.
O God, the blood! All over Lavrans, leaving Ulvhild bloodless.
The beast won, the beast I drew to our home.
Lavrans reached out his arms to me, but I screamed them away.
“Don’t touch me! Jesus, I am a sinful woman!
I have brought misfortune upon us. Again.”
The priest said it would take a miracle.
Brother Edvin said I should pray for a fearless heart.
Fru Aashild made her own fortune. (God’s or the Devil’s, who knows?)
That night she told dirty jokes, I knew who she was talking about,
even if Lavrans was too drunk to realize.
I knew we had to walk halfway across Norway, carrying our broken child.
In time I had another daughter. I couldn’t even look at her, sent her away.
But I sent her the most lovely gifts and when she slept,
I would sit with her, sing too softly for anyone to hear.
The only safe place for me is outside in the green dark under the northern lights
where my tears can fall like snowflakes, first fine and soft, then fierce like a blizzard.
Like some goddess who becomes beautiful only when alone and cold.