Sykkel Saga, Vicki Husband

Mariscat Press, 2019   £6.00

A challenging cycle ride with the Gods

By chance I’m currently rereading Lancelyn Green’s Myths of the Norsemen and Husband’s haikus offer a mesmerising experience of cycling through a Norwegian landscape of shapeshifting terrain in the company of some Viking shadows.

We are pulled into the visceral experience of combat with weather, coastline and gradients. Norse gods seem fast on the narrator’s spinning wheels. The lines are steeped in their presence. The reader is immersed in a modern spin of a mythic quality.

Right away, the cyclist experiences the physical power of the ancient in the elements she encounters, e.g. ‘hypnotic calls us / dragon-headed we breathe from / firebags plunder air’, having pedalled ‘blasted teeth of rock’ with ‘nothing but hills in the way / all knuckle / shoulder…’

We feel the power of this northern world, its steep slopes, harbours and pastureland as the journey offers us elation, weariness and wonder.

The pieces are peppered with both Norwegian vocabulary and references to figures from Viking tales e.g. trolls, a ‘serpent curled in the underworld’, sea eagles, a hag, Loki’s ‘tricky slippery shape’. There’s a nod to Thor’s chariot and the great battle of Ragnarök.

On page 16 the narrator speaks of a sense of danger:

Beneath us Ran and
daughters follow all eyes on
the ocean’s bright sky

And again, on page 21:

While Memory looks
back at the snaking road, sees
the dead not yet passed.

Looks again, to see
how shape shifting forces change
i et oyeblikk

Modern life is reflected in these old stories of the creation, the science of the sky and the earth’s place in the universe, whatever lies beyond our understanding:

spectral Bifrost bridge
leading to Valhalla or
some other home/hjem/realm

Maggie Mackay