First Marriage (March 1972)

by Norvin Dickerson

My wife and I waited for base housing in a narrow apartment

on the second floor

of an old fish factory in Keflavik. Kitchen with European appliances,

a living room we filled

with an Advent turntable and Bose speakers from the PX. Moody Blues,

Pink Floyd, Eagles. Our bedroom

looked over the bay towards Reykjavik. We faced our bed to

the moon. Hung a mirror

on the bedroom wall and a painting my wife made of a worker

with long curly hair

in a hardhat decorated with an American flag. Added lopsided pottery

we turned at the crafts center.

One Saturday we returned from market with herring in cream,

lamb chops and fresh bread.

We could see our breath. Steam from fish factories hung low in the cold.

Wind off the bay kept the smell

away from us. After lunch dishes suddenly rattled on the drain board,


The mirror and painting swayed on the wall like pendulums.

Crooked silence.

Out the door. Town still there. Puffs of steam still rising from fish

rendering. Intact. For a time.

Norvin Dickerson, a native of North Carolina, is a former lawyer now living in Black Mountain.

About First Marriage—My chapbook, titled War Stories, contains poems about my military service in Iceland, far away from Vietnam but close to natural disasters like volcanoes and earthquakes. In “First Marriage,” an earthquake becomes the metaphor for a crumbling marriage.