Odin’s dream

Two beggars came to the door

says Odin.

Laborers, or criminals; foreigners, male and dark.

They could not speak our language.

I did not let them inside.

They looked hungry. I will make you a sandwich, I said

says Odin.

I found bread, white loaves. I couldn’t decide whether to spread butter or mayonnaise on the bread. Then I found mayonnaise I had made and thought, it will go bad faster than butter so I had better use it up.

I made them cheese sandwiches with mayonnaise and sliced cheese that was beginning to go translucent around the edges. I fed them before I woke up

says Odin.

What does my dream mean.

Fear and liminality

says Loki.

You are an old man blind in one eye. Long white hair and beard, and blind in one eye.

but

says Loki.

Still you love the unknown and secret and feed it freely.

Next time feed it something richer than old cheese sandwiches with old mayonnaise.

And see what happens.

Of course the question is, should you take a trickster’s advice.

Vegetarian

Odin gets up in the morning and wanders around, ends up downstairs, lets the cats in, feeds them, checks his email, looks at social media, sits there staring into space, tells the cats to get off the table, lets one onto his lap after it’s stared at him a long time, tells another one to get off the counter, has to get up – carrying the first cat – and make the other one get off the counter, sits back down, tells the third one to get off the counter, puts down the first one, makes a perfect (by his standards) cup of espresso, takes it downstairs, starts writing in his journal, the entry turns into blessings on all he loves, goes back upstairs, takes a shower, gets dressed, makes his wife a perfect (by his standards) cup of espresso, somewhere in there eats something forgettable for breakfast (actually three slices of bread, with butter and honey) (which make everything sticky), drives to the train station, gets there late, but his train is even later than he is so he makes the train, right on time, like something in the movies, goes to Vienna, takes a different train closer to the office, walks to the office while reading Deadeye Dick by Kurt Vonnegut, goes to the office, works, goes to the store on his lunch break, can’t decide what to eat for lunch, ends up getting a salad, and an egg salad sandwich (it is the vegetarian option, maybe there are egg bushes now), dressing, green tea / honey iced tea, and a package of some sort of cookie (Fourré Biscuits, it says on the label) walks to the usual bench, shares half the sandwich with the crows but one (the grey one) is a little dominant towards the other (black with a few white feathers) so he ends up sharing more of his half with that one; the grey one eats a little and hides the rest and the black one flies some of his off somewhere, then Odin goes back to his office and discovers some hyperfiction he wrote once experimenting with TWINE and sits down to write a blog post.

What say the slain?

They say, do not worry so much.

They say, bless you.

They say, come down out of that tree.

They say, look, a rainbow.

They say, everything is connected by little strings you cannot see or feel; if you could grasp the strings, you could yank someone right off a horse.

 

What say the hanged?

50 per cent chance of rain, 50 per cent chance of sun: so why freak out about the rain?

Fledgling

Odin is walking to work, it’s early, he took a later train because his kid skipped school but it’s still early and he walks around a corner by his office and a fledgling something hops up to him.

Whoa, hello little dude says Odin.

He squats down and the little grey bird hops over to him.

Don’t get too friendly, says Odin. Also watch out for cats.

Odin looks over the little bird, trying to decide if it’s a cuckoo or a crow. He guesses crow. There must be a nest.

Odin has no food for it.

He apologizes.

He squats there in his suit having a stare-out with the baby crow. He wonders if the crow is imprinting his face.

We’ll see, I guess.

The bird flaps its wings and gets a little air.

Watch out for cats, Odin repeats. He stands and when he does, he notices another fledgling further on down the sidewalk, exploring. He has the impression there might be a couple more out there, but when he looks closer he doesn’t see any more.

What say the slain?

What’s a slain, says the fledgling.

 

What did the crow say

It is, in May, a pleasure to fly above a city aburst with life, juicy leaves and rooftops, worms in gutters garbage in backyards a god just standing there taking it all in and when it turns to June and just as green and warm sky blue or gray or rainy and animals and people doing their thing, it’s a pleasure it is.

And to sit on a wire or branch at midday and cars drive past below and dogs on leashes and people some fast some slow and the god of lunch sits on his bench and shares a sausage or crispy chicken, the sweet-sour sauce is sticky on the beak and must be wiped in grass, but the chicken is tender and still hot from the wok.

Skwerls clink to bark, they and everything else are in their place, the slain are on the battlefield the hanged hang everything is as it should be. A girl walks with her father and declaims the doom of all existence or at least humanity and right she may be and he puts an arm around her for a second or two and lets her go again.

Meat Locker

Now, when Odin hears “meat locker”, he thinks of discovery scenes in uninspired thrillers where an investigator finds out where the killer was keeping his victims and why it was so hard to calculate time of death, and where an important character is ultimately trapped and their blue skin covered with frost while they try in vain to 1)break the door open and 2)get a signal on their phone.

But as a boy, the meat locker was where you kept the meat. Mom would say, get your coat even if it was summer and you rode in the station wagon to the Bi-Lo Market on Highway 99, the bell ringing over the door as you entered the store, and went back into the meat locker where you could rent space and where they kept a side of beef they had raised, and which a man had cut and packaged in white butcher paper in exchange for the other half of the animal he had shot from his truck, then hoisted on a crane mounted on the bed, opened in a flood of gore with a small chainsaw (to the amazement of neighborhood kids watching) and gutted right there in the field.

Now everything in life is bewilderingly and confusingly malleable and relative, but at that time the world was solid and given, the meat locker and the man who ran the Bi-Lo and everyone else just were, requiring understanding and comprehension as little as the mountains on the horizon or the macadam of the parking lot.

Everything just was and always had been and always would be, amen. Everything was mysterious, but there was no other way it could be, understanding was neither possible nor required. People were what their uniform said they were or what your parents told you. There was no death and no age and no change. There was only scratching a dog behind the ears or on the sweet spot on its back that made it pedal with one leg, the soft texture of a horse’s nose, the grain of the boards on a wood fence, the taste of wild blackberries dusty from the road and warm from the sun. Adults did what they did, mysterious. You went to school. You read the short articles at the front of every section in the World Book Encyclopedia about the evolution of the letters of the alphabet, and learned new words from the unabridged dictionary.

Everything was solid granite, and what is there to understand about granite?

The inside of the meat locker is white.

The light is dim but your eyes adjust.

When he finds himself in a universe in which time has stopped, or become malleable, Odin returns to the meat locker and observes the events of his life as they hang suspended in the fog his cold breath makes. He walks among them and studies them from all angles and perspectives.

As a boy, things were mysterious but this was no cause for alarm, it was their nature and it was the nature of a boy to be ignorant and mystified.

As a man, things are sometimes confusing.  Sometimes you think they are not confusing and that you have everything sussed, and sometimes you do but sometimes you find later on that you were mistaken, or you are mistaken but you never find out and either no one else does either, or they do but are too polite to tell you. Things happen fast and are confusing and sometimes you figure them out and sometimes you do not.

So in the meat locker, in the absence of time, Odin has a rare respite from things changing faster than he can figure them out and can approximate wisdom by looking and looking until he finds an angle that makes sense. He can find the opportunity in a crisis, the lesson in a failure, and the good intention behind something that had hurt his pride.

It’s all hanging there on hooks in the cold, amidst the meat.

He can look until his lips turn blue, if he wants.

Quickening

It’s Friday and on Fridays everyone has a two-hour lunch break (you do, right? If not, send a letter to your Congressman) and because Odin  has time to meander a roundabout path he almost makes it to the store before the crow notices him.

Let me tell you something: having largish birds swoop around you close enough to hear their feathers on the air quickens the heart with joy, as long as they’re not pecking at you or shitting on you or something belonging to you or where you wanted to sit.

Heart quickened, Odin buys a mylar bag of cashew nuts and dried cranberries, and a small plastic bag of miniature dried sausages.

Odin eats some nuts and eats a sausage on his way back to the bench to share with the crow.

The atmosphere is cycling back and forth between the poles of nice, sunny, late-spring day and Is it maybe going to rain or not, without ever actually raining.

When he arrives at the bench, Odin is thinking about writing a love scene with the sentence, They kissed so hard a piece of dried sausage trapped between two molars was dislodged.

The grey crow has its rules of engagement, and they include not approaching closer than four feet. It will not come onto the bench for a bite of sausage. It hides the big pieces, and some of the nuts, and eats the small pieces and the rest of the nuts and cranberries.

On a two-hour lunch break, you have time to just sit on a bench in the sun/shade/sun/shade and rejoice in being a living thing.

Part of all this.

Just a part, one part among many.

What say the slain?

How fortunate you are, this very second.

And how I love you.

O what a lucky man

So now Odin keeps a package of smoked, dried sausages in his desk drawer and never goes for a walk on his lunch break without one in his pocket, now that the grey crow has tracked him to his office. He goes out, the crow lands in the grass and Odin crouches there, holding out a sausage, C’mere, c’mere, lunch little buddy, across the street from a diplomat’s residence — guard, flag, servants — then gives up and tosses the sausage to the crow.

The crow marches up and down the street like Groucho Marx chomping on a cigar, then hides the sausage by the curb. Odin walks to a nearby park, but not without being accosted by the crow a second time. Sorry, pal, just one today.

How would his suit smell if he packed sausages everywhere he went? Like a mad relative, that’s how.

The park was recently re-opened after running wild for decades and is green and overgrown. Crows watch him from the trees and there is an observatory.

What say the hanged?

How unlikely it is that we are even here, we lucky crowd, conceived against millennia of opposition, branches withered and frozen, starved and broken and trimmed and yet here we hang, fat and ripe and feeling sorry for ourselves.

There is a science to luck and that science is put yourself in its way. Life might follow you into your room and roll on its back at your feet while you sit there at your desk, but luck is outside, barking at cars and jumping from branch to branch and looking you in the eye and smiling.