By: Emily Scudder
This is not an advertised tour.
Just an email, time, and place to meet, 60 króna handed over
in cash. We have taken a taxi to talk huldufólk: elves and trolls.
In Hafnarfjörður a solid woman bundled in an excellent winter coat
greets us in the city square in biting winds blowing off Greenland.
My husband freezes in his fake fur-lined hat. Slanted corrugated
metal roofs sit atop modest houses on modest streets.
There is no wood here. The Vikings cut the trees down.
Crazed marauders not known for moderation, self-control.
Beneath the mossy hillside in the park the hidden folk live.
My son sees a flicker. A tiny flame?
What seems unreal seems real.
In the basement of a green and white geometric house sits
a large rock. The owner built around it. Why not?
It’s not about believing. It’s about being open.
I place my gloved palm on a boulder by a mailbox.
Imagine gnomes playing cards.
In our painted white apartment hotel it is light all night and
midnight madness makes sense even with room darkening shades.
Emily Scudder is the author of Feeding Time (Pecan Grove Press) and chapbooks, Natural Instincts and A Change of Pace (Finishing Line Press). Her poems have appeared in Harvard Review, Agni, Margie, New Letters, Harpur Palate, Salamander, North Dakota Quarterly, Ethel Zine, and other places. Visit her online at www.emilyscudder.com
"My family is interested in folklore, mythology, literature, the power of story and the imagination. So on a trip to Iceland in 2015 we connected with an Icelandic woman who took us on a walking tour of Hafnarfjörður, a city believed to be a place where many Huldufólk live. We strolled around a local neighborhood together, just the five of us, my husband and I and our 18 and 21 year old daughter and son. We talked about the history of the Icelandic Huldufólk over the centuries. We put our hands on boulders. It was a quiet time and she said one thing as we chatted that I have never forgotten…that it’s not about believing, it’s about being open. In so many ways her words summed up my experience in Iceland. Iceland gets under your skin. It changes you - the landscape, the history, the wind, the remoteness, the Icelandic people, the small horses, the diverging tectonic plates, the sound of the language - and in late May it was light – always light. The midnight sun. I tried in the poem Huldufólk to capture some of this."