When we came home
I added two samples of volcanic rock
to the line of reminders on the shelf
tufa; a lumpy, light, brown cinder,
obsidian; dense, black, faceted.
We had parted: you for a three day trek
through the mountains, I to explore
the foothills at Landmannalaugar:
craters soaked in alchemical colours,
smoking lakes fed by geothermal streams,
tall tufa shapes, menacing at twilight.
Back at the hut I slid into my sleeping bag,
awoke to a dark so thick it pushed out the walls
and took me with it: at once small as a wormhole
and wide as the curve of star-netted space.
I am a worm curled round the axis
of an astrolabe: imperceptibly, I revolve.
I returned to you down lava ash roads,
on a bus built to stand the force of rivers.
In Reykjavik you pressed a chip of obsidian
into my hand, described deep gorges and glaciers,
a plateau of black scree, murderous underfoot;
how each stone caught the light.
Later in the short dark hours
we drank beer in the backyard of a bar,
a nugget of darkness in my palm
while a singer opened her throat.
Annette Skade (from her poetry collection, Thimblerig)