Harold Harefoot, second son of King Canute,
tearfully scattered a handful of earth onto his father’s coffin.
He felt guilty that, when he had climbed aboard the long ship
And touched the torch to his father’s lifeless corpse,
It hadn’t lit. Just limply steamed.
So they’d done it modern way: the hole in the ground.
No send off for a Dane.
“Don’t worry about it, mate,” said his half-sister, Gunhilda of Denmark,
“He’s in a better place now.
And I don’t think anyone noticed the hermit crab crawling out of his ear.
Come on. Let’s get pissed.”
But Harold Harefoot didn’t go with Gunhilda of Denmark.
He took the undertakers shovel and walked back to the beach,
where they’d hauled Canute’s lifeless, dripping body in from the waves.
Tired of being mastered by the sea
He dug, down into the sand. A tomb for the tide.
The brim of the hole was a foot above his head
When the waves started to come back in.