Skálholt: Refuge for a Tired Deity

A Poem

Bailey Buckner
May 31, 2017 · 2 min read
Skálholt Cathedral. Iceland. May 3rd, 2017.

If I were God, I would take refuge

in a humble cathedral

at the outermost edges of Earth,

a place where the faint and sickly scent of sulfur

bubbles up from the rocky ground

as if the devil himself were ready for a détente.


I would rush though fertile fields

and crawl over moss-covered crags

to sit alone in sacred silence

and escape that clamorous burden

of clinking pitchforks,

desperate pleas,

and prayers practically screamed,

as if their volume somehow

made them more important.


If I were God, that’s where I would be,

my head buried in my hands

and wishing I had a deity of my own to pray to.

But I suppose he and I have different ideas,

for I didn’t find him there

in that quiet little cathedral

at the outermost edges of Earth —

not in a pew,

not at the pulpit,

and certainly not in the crypt.


I only found one lonely monument

to man’s determination, to his faith,

to his conquering harsh and distant lands

in the name of some all-consuming belief

in an elusive, but absolute truth.


How stunning that monument seemed,

placed there against the

backdrop of an overcast sky,

among the taciturn ruins

of a long lost monastery

where countless men once lived and died.


I couldn’t help but to be moved

by this memorial,

by this modest shrine.

And I couldn’t help but to be terrified.

Bailey Buckner

Written by

An Appalachian writer with a penchant for depressing Russian lit. Multipotentialite. Maladaptive Daydreamer. Novel:

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade