Helfrid a Norwegian Navvy

Your cross to bear in life
was wrought from steel and stone,
until at last its weight 
of sorrow took you back.

You used to sing
your songs in a foreign tongue,
but booze you drank 
without a single word.

When they brought you back 
you were broken by the blast,
the bridge had fallen but
they said, at last, you found 

your way back home
to where the milk is sweet
and cholera had never 
claimed your daughter.

Today Laura prompts us to write about a grave at dVerse, and imagine a story from it. The picture is from a Navvy’s graveyard up in the far north of Sweden.

June 9, 2020

15 responses to “Helfrid a Norwegian Navvy

  1. this is wonderful – a glimpse into Helfrids life excellently wrought with lines like:
    “You used to sing
    your songs in a foreign tongue,
    but booze you drank
    without a single word.”

  2. Over here, we think of all navvies as being Irish, Björn! I like the way you’ve taken the image of the cross and expanded on it in the poem, ‘wrought from steel and stone’ – the sound of the sibilant/alliterative ‘steel and stone’ creates a hard sound. You brought Helfrid to life so vividly, what a shame he was killed by the blast from the bridge.

  3. This feels so real and so sad. That last reference to his daughter – is that why he drinks in silence? Did he welcome that blast? So many lives, sheets of paper blown away.

  4. Just another faceless laborer, killed by his vocation, until a poet caught sight of his grave, and re-gifted him with dignity and honor. You really rocked the prompt.

  5. kaykuala

    at last, you found
    your way back home
    to where the milk is sweet

    The homecoming given due respect even if the physical remains were not intact it was a moving gesture!


  6. Someone once said to me, Those who believe soon stop crying. Those who don’t, break forever. I read your poem, looked at those shiny white markers, and wonder who stopped crying and who was broken.

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