Northwords Now

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Kennings for the sea

by Jennifer Morag Henderson

I came in on the sea-road
the sail road, the ships’ path

The oarstroke-lands
the ring of islands taking me to
a wedding ring
the island ring

from the necklace of the Faroe Islands
away from the plain of puffins
along the water way, the ship’s way

sailing through a land of wonders
the broad gunwale road
the gull’s land
the whale’s land, the bed of fish
along the roads of the redfish
to the land of the salmon

through the known fishing stations, the fish-field
to the cool plot, the wave world
to a sea of nightmares
the melted ice world
the land of the surge
and trembling ground
the high wave enclosure
of the earth-belt

to the roaring field of the whale
the water-monster’s stronghold
truly in the outlying land of the ship
where it earns its name the blood of land
the storm-twisted enclosure
the roaring-beach of the trolling-line.

Then slipped, calmer now
to the enclosure of seaweed
the kelp’s land
the ground of Scotland
a new homestead of the prow

follow the birds’ track
the marshland of seagulls
the bed of coal-fish

the chain of lands keeps me here
the hollows of the herring
the swollen hall of sands
the boat-land
the deceit-ring

the island fetter

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