Thingvellir, Iceland

Walk through these broken skins of Earth. You will see the world tearing apart. You feel like you might tear along with it. Was that the groans of a ruptured planet, or just the beating of your own heart? Jagged black rocks rise on either side of you. Faults. Two tectonic plates pull in opposite directions. Eurasia and North America become opposing sides, moving further and further away from each other.

The low-hanging sun illuminates this land. Its rays reach down into the crevices of rock, showing off for you. It feels like it is just you and the Earth here together, that there could not possibly be another human alive. But the Icelandic Parliament of mortals was made here, forming laws where the world rips apart. Worn paths prove you are not the first, nor the last to bear witness.

Inside and in between, the land demands your attention. It blocks your peripheries until you have tunnel vision. You are here, it says, and you must look and admire all its wonders. On an island in the Atlantic, cut off from the world, the isolation drives deeper as you stand in its crust. The Earth opens to you and you open in return, finding small beauties in your depths.You are in its arms and it cradles you like a child, for you are its child. Your mother rocks you with her wind and cold comfort flushes your skin.

Long strands of tanned grass blanket the ground, pocked like a million horses galloped through. Watch your footing. For if your bones snap in this neutral zone, you think you might never be found.

Half-frozen waterfalls form icy rivers in your path. Follow them and you will surely be taken to the underworld. Lost souls trapped in the bitter touch of frigid death. Tread the line.

Drag your hands along the walls and feel the rough minerals catch on the grooves of your fingerprints. It grabs at you like a beggar. Brush it away, but it will always be a part of you.

Climb the ridge above and you can see for endless miles. Snow dissolves into clouds at the horizon. Glaciers and volcanoes stand like sentinels in the expanse. Melting and erupting. Your mother becomes a child at this distance. Care for her, and she will care for you when she is ready. Your symbiotic relationship.

-Mary Poth

Mary Poth lives to write and to travel. Her adventures inspired her first novel-in-progress set in Iceland. She is pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. She has published a short story, play, and poem in Shoofly Literary Magazine. She resides in Northern Virginia.

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