Skip to content

the dust of hope: rune poems

February 17, 2022

I got a copy of Judy Croome’s volume the dust of hope: rune poems as part of a poetic book tour and enjoyed the way each poem is based on an idea related to runes she identifies as from Elder Futhark, a proto-Norse alphabet; each rune is reproduced on the page as a drawing.

The poems are divided into five sections: The Journey Begins, Freya’s Aett, Heimdallr’s Aett, Tyr’s Aett, and Homecoming. The title comes from the epigraph, taken from Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex: “from his high crest headlong,/ He plummets to the dust of hope.”

These are small, quiet poems, and easily accessible. They’re about coping with our feelings about the worldwide pandemic, and the first one, the introductory poem, is based on a rune for the unknowable or the void: “a new dimension arising/submerging our hopes in despair,/our dreams in doubt.” That certainly describes what I was feeling at the end of March 2020—the pandemic and lockdowns revealed a new dimension of life, one I never suspected would exist, and it sunk my hopes for the two trips I already had plane tickets for and put my dreams of visiting other places in doubt, from then until now.

Small images are important in these poems; I like the image of the eland, a kind of African deer, in a poem about seeing a cave “where sacred eland gild the walls” and then seeing some live ones later, “silvered in the moonlight,/ warm breath smoking in the chill autumn air.” In another poem, an image of hail falling is made almost tactile in the line “sad wisps of stripped bark slapping the branches bowing.”

In a poem related to the rune “LAGUZ” which we’re told means flow (reversed), “the corona virus keeps moving,/changing, mutating, entering every breath/while we, listless with our fears/of death and dying, become dull/with a suffocating inertia.”

The consolation for the fear and uncertainty of trying to live through a pandemic is nature, in many of these poems. The one that spoke to me most has statistics:

“endless broadcast after broadcast
so many—so many—
such a plethora of panic
we lose ourselves
in fear and statistics:

1 512 225 cases in South Africa
113 826 206 worldwide
49 941 deaths (probably more) in South Africa
2 526 162 (probably more) worldwide
9 054 643 tested
67 303 vaccinated

this is all we see—hear—breathe—
this bitter taste of despair
fills our gossip and our lives—
until we leave the choking cities
escaping into the wild green bush,
lush with rain and renewal.
there—in the quiet summer evening—
we hear the crescendo of the cicadas
our ancestors heard ten thousand nights ago….”

A footnote to the poem reveals that the data is from on February 27, 2021.

If you’re feeling a bit like life during the pandemic has plummeted you to the dust of hope, you might like these little poetic meditations on how to keep going on.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 18, 2022 6:29 am

    Thank you for being on the blog tour for this one!


  1. the dust of hope: rune poems by Judy Croome (Jan.-March 2022) |

your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: