The Valkyries Clear the Table

by Elizabeth Vignali

The heroes have autographed the table again
with their glasses, rings of condensation
in looped cursive circles that interrupt

each other’s epics. We take turns
riding to the shoreline
to measure the water’s rise.

Bide our time until the earth
gets swallowed up. The heroes have retired
to the other room. They watch football—

muddy boots on the coffee table,
shields and spears stacked by the door
just in case the wolf starts howling

and the stars go out. We clear away
the latest carnage. No souls for us anymore,
just chicken bones and Cheeto crumbs,

plates globbed with seven-layer dip
and hot-wing sauce red as blood.
The heroes cry out—

a foul in the game, another penalty.
They call for more mead, more beer.
Use their daggers to sweep the dirt

from under their nails.
Tell each other they would have
done it this way or that way

if they were football players. Gods
miscast as humans. The cheerleaders
smile and shake their pompoms.

We lift the heroes’ crusted heels
wipe the filth from their soles.
Ask if they need anything else.

We bring the heroes’ half-empty pitchers
to the sea: flat Pabst and Coors Light
and too-sweet honey mead.

We empty it all into the waves
gauge the horizon’s glassy intentions
and measure the water again.

ELIZABETH VIGNALI is an optician and writer in Bellingham, Washington. Her poems have appeared in various publications, including Willow Springs, Cincinnati Review, Tinderbox, Natural Bridge, and Nimrod. Her chapbook, Object Permanence, is available from Finishing Line Press.

Photo: “Valkyrie” by Jo

1 thought on “The Valkyries Clear the Table”

  1. I love this poem. So many great images and lines: Use their daggers to sweep the dirt

    from under their nails, Gods miscast as humans; and the last stanza, wow.

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