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Bob Lucky, General Editor & Ray Rasmussen, Technical Editor
January 2020 Vol. 15 No. 4

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Judit Hollos

Tainted Aurora

According to the Inuit tribes, it is the spirits of dead humans playing a ball game using a walrus skull, while the Crees firmly hold it is the ghosts of their departed friends trying to communicate with those they left behind. The local people nowadays barely even stop to watch when the snow under our feet all of a sudden turns jade green and thousands of small, shimmering pillars are born in the star-flooded sky, only to seconds later morph into astounded faces or giant curtains that draw a veil over the tiny fishing village.

It now looks like the sheets on her hospital bed. She hardly ever responds to my clumsy attempts to connect anymore. Her skinny head rests peacefully on the sterile hospital pillow. I tell her about my current job and recent accomplishments while she stares at me with a numb expression. A flock of seagulls dub our silence as I awkwardly glance at the clock. Finally, she turns to me, but her faint voice splits into a handful of colorless snowdrops.

last journey
budding twigs covered with
a halo of rime

Later on the verdant whirlpool turns into the head of a dragon, while yellow and copper light stripes are figure skating arm in arm behind the frozen needles of Dynjandi fall, as well as above the ice-caped mountains around Thingeyri. Sparks of quickly running fox fires re-kindle the ash-gray fjord, and as I’m standing on its gleaming coast I recall my recently deceased grandma in the embrace of a distant party’s squeaking sounds. For a moment, I become that abominable child again, wreaking havoc in the garden of the summer cottage just to call her attention. What would she say if she ever got to experience all this? I haven’t seen her for about eight months now, except in some of those paralyzing moments on the borderline between dreaming and being awake. I wanted to visit her once more before traveling away but then suddenly it was just too late. Soon enough the lights fade away, gently ploughing their furrows in the sky, just like the spring-leaded poles of the trolleybuses at home. I stay alone with my recollections as everyone around me seems to be lost in the shrieking celebration of the Pagan midwinter festivity, the Thorrablót.

The Northern Lights have long been considered to be the spirit guides that help the departed on their way to the next world for thousands of years now. Here in the Westfjords, however, they are more connected with childbirth and the promise of a new life.

northern dawn
Aurora streaks frozen
on the fjord