David McLansky

(5/24/1944 / New York City)

Copper Kettle


The Vikings came to rape and pillage
And killed my Liam strapped to his tillage;
They took my Meg before my eyes
And laughed at all her mother’s cries.

I begged them not to kill my son
My little babe, my precious one;
But they hewed him with their heavy swords
And smeared his gore on broken boards.

What rich rewards, a copper kettle,
A chance to show their Viking mettle;
A hut of mud and woven wattle,
A sod-stained farmer, a broken bottle.

They burned our hut and cooked the goat,
Then pushed us to their Dragon boat
I watched the smoke rise in the bay
As busily they rowed away.

Now they sail the distant coasts;
These ruthless men of deed and boast;
They take me and my frightened child
When they’re drunk and roaring wild.

I light the fire when we land and settle
And boil their oats in my own kettle.
Megan died bruised in my arms
Despite my ken of spells and charms.

They tossed Meg’s body overboard
Three miles out from foggy shore.
I lived a ghost of cold and ice;
They fished me from the water twice.

I cook and mend now in their village,
A slave sold as a share of pillage;
I feed his babe, Black Jorgenson,
This tender man who killed my son.

Why I live, I know not why,
Half dead with sorrow, too tired to cry;
A habit left to gasp and breathe,
To wipe my nose upon my sleeve?

They laugh and tease before the hearth,
They feast and joke, weave woolen scarves;
A family warm and safe with cheer;
While from my kettle they drink my beer.

Submitted: Monday, September 09, 2013
Edited: Wednesday, September 11, 2013

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