Valhalla

I ride tonight with mortality clenched tight around my heart,
Like a vise.
The gods roar in Valhalla, making bets obstreperously,
Tossing dice
To see which soul will be called to account.
Beers spill, chairs overturn, dogs mount.
The game of souls is afoot, O heady the power
This hour.

Odin, All-Father, slams down his fist, demanding a great king, a great general
Such as there were of old.
Thor wants a warrior of name (his allegiance on earth no matter)
To stand beside him in the next battle (for there is always a next battle).
But Loki loaded the dice
And the number tossed is mine
And so I come to Valhalla
Before my time.

They curse Loki when I appear — useless, feminine, weak.
I do not incite fear
Or inspire confidence.
I do not ignite lust, not next to the goddesses, star-browed and heady.
I am a pale candle,
They can barely see me next to the roaring fires.
They throw chicken bones at Loki, who dodges artfully
Laughs with glee
Ducks out of the hall.
Mischief managed, more to come.
Always more, with Loki.

In this endless brawling love, this loving hate,
What place is there for me, forsaken, misbegotten by death,
Mistakenly brought to Valhalla?
If I were a myth, I might weave a song of such heartbreak
I’d awaken their rough souls to a memory of home
And, amid tears, be sent back like a well-beloved sister.
If I were a Hollywood movie, I might join their brawls,
Losing, falling, but building my skills and muscle day after day
Until I bested one of the best in battle,
Taking a place at the table as a warrior by right.
Alas, I am neither a myth nor a movie, and life does not always fall out like a story,
Not even in death.