Nobody ever asks me if I loved them.
When people talk about my children, they mention
the mount Odin gained from me,
the serpent that encircles the world,
the daughter who rules over the dead,
and the wolf that will devour my blood-brother
when all things end.
Very rarely do they think of those other children I sired,
laying with love in the arms of my wife,
begetting two sons within her body,
watching them grow up strong and swift and sound.
When they are mentioned, in learned debates,
it is only as an afterthought:
“He was bound with the entrails of one of his sons,
who was torn apart by the other,
after that one was transformed into a wolf.”
Never more than that.
No one talks about me watching the babes
slide from my beloved’s body,
wet with the fluids that they floated in,
watching them take their first breaths,
watching them open their eyes to see me for their first time.
They do not think of the first time I saw them
suckle at her breasts,
taking their strength from her,
cradled warm in her arms,
swaddled in soft blankets and crib-clothes,
taking their first steps,
saying their first words.
They do not think on their growing years,
playing alongside the sons and daughter of my friend Thor,
taking their occasional bruises and tumbles
as children sometimes do,
or coming to me for a hug when they finished their play,
and asking for a story of my travels with him
after dinner, before bed.
They call me ‘Trickster’.
They hardly ever think to call me ‘father’.
They do not think of how I screamed,
when my son Váli’s body began to twist, to sprout fur,
when he was transformed against his will
as I was held captive to prevent me from saving him;
no one thinks of how I shrieked when
they loosed him on his brother Nari,
flesh tearing, blood splattering the ground,
tearing his brother to shreds.
No one whispers about how I wailed
when one of those I had fought for,
worked with, laughed with,
loosed an arrow to destroy the remaining son,
my now wolf-son, covered in his brother’s blood.
No one speaks of how I wept when
they dragged me underground and bound me in place
with the entrails of the child I had created,
the boy who had looked up to me,
Nor do they mention the screams of my
wife, my beloved Sigyn,
as she watched her babes so horrifically slaughtered.
In a world where there are those
who chose to punish a father
by destroying his children in such a manner,
and those who would honor such vile monsters,
how dare anyone call me evil?