By Miriam Sagan
These poems were written when I was in residence at Gullkistan Residency for Creative People in Laugervatn, Iceland. I shared an apartment with a friend, also a writer, overlooking a lake with a giant volcano looming above it. I was already far from home, but I often like to go out to write so I’d walk a few blocks to the local hotel and have a snack or lunch. These poems were written simply in a notebook over a cup of tomato soup or coffee. It was still just the start of summer, so quiet. Once we stayed up until 2 a.m. talking without realizing it because it was still light out.
A Rainy Thursday in Laugervatn
wind comes off the water
trees–generic because I am a foreigner–bend in it
and the umbrella I transported for thousands of miles
small black ducks at the edge of the lake
pea plant gone saturated blue in the northern light
and although I praise and soothe the sheep
they turn fat furry tail and run
off on their little legs
like time, like wavelets on a shore
and reading a saga
in the hotel edda
and waiting for lunch
I feel as if I were (although I’m not)
sitting in a ferry terminal
about to embark
bad news from far-away
good news up close (raindrop, birch)
and the artist tells me
if I understand correctly
that her great grandmother
is the one who carved this gigantic statue
of the tall woman
with enormous outspread wings
Lunch At The Lake
In Hebrew, Mir is bitter,
I know my name means rebellion.
A small chocolate
comes with the coffee,
a tiny chip in the cup.
I’m all alone
in the dining room
watching the rain
come across the lake
as if nothing had ever happened to me.
Miriam Sagan is the author of 30 published books, including the novel Black Rainbow (Sherman Asher, 2015) and Geographic: A Memoir of Time and Space (Casa de Snapdragon, 2016). She founded and heads the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College. Her blog, Miriam’s Well, has a thousand daily readers. She has been a writer in residence in two national parks, at Yaddo, MacDowell, Colorado Art Ranch, Andrew’s Experimental Forest, Center for Land Use Interpretation, Iceland’s Gullkistan Residency for creative people, and another dozen or so remote and unique places. Her awards include the Santa Fe Mayor’s award for Excellence in the Arts, the Poetry Gratitude Award from New Mexico Literary Arts, and A Lannan Foundation residency in Marfa.
Photographs taken in Iceland by Miriam’s daughter, Isabel Winson-Sagan.