Alice Miller / WHAT FIRE

New Valkyrie

Dear, I would be a terrible chooser
of the dead.

How to keep my eyes clear
while determining

which half lived, which

a woman I love was told
she had an illness spread

too far to cure. She isn’t yet forty.
Why can’t we undo it, she said

down the phone.
I’d like to be impartial,

immortal, to seem to consider,
and let her live.

She has a mind
like no one I know.

Dear, let me say something better
than the nothing I utter.

Better yet, let me change this:
Let me shatter each tumour.

A Valkyrie chooses who dies
in battle. The half who die—

the einherjar—must prepare
for the world’s end,    

and sometimes
the Valkyries come

to bring them mead.
Today I am still waiting

to hear from her,
still waiting to get home

to see her. So I will bring her mead,
one way or the other.

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