Love Is Fire: Messy Fire
One of the joys of reading and writing in community with Project Redux has been seeing my
beloved heart book through others’ eyes. Caitlin Dwyer noticed the fire in the very first chapter
in a way I hadn’t. So while rereading the book past year, I took a cue from her and paid attention to fire in the story: where it rises up and where it burns out, sooner or later (as Simon says).
Alternating refrains call for a villanelle, so that’s the form I chose. I did not follow the proper
rhyme scheme, only the repetition (and I let mine go on a little too long, like this book). Because Kristin Lavransdatter often repeats but doesn’t always rhyme. So much of this book is messy.
Just like I am messy — trying to make sense of my life, writing the same words over and over. I
am a woman on fire, crying onto my own flint as I try to rekindle flame in my empty hearth.
When Kristin leaves Jorundgaard for good, I finally start to like her. When she is only The
Widow Kristin, capable of joining a convent but not of becoming a nun. When she discovers the
mob of men bent on burying a child alive to end the plague and screams, “I am like you.” When
she realizes her passionate, messy marriage has forever marked her as bound to the Virgin Mary
and to God.
Hers is a fire that only new snow can quench. That’s what falls on Ulf and Sira Eiliv as they
walk away from her deathbed. The words echo a scene from 690 pages earlier. Snowy payoff;
I believe that in her afterlife Kristin at last goes into the heart of the mountain, to dwell forever
with the Mountain King. Where fire is free to play and be happy, to love.
Read my villanelle at Project Redux