Ode to Loki, or An Absurd Glorification of Existential Loneliness (Gabriela Denise Frank)

I want to be his only lover left alive. I love the whole unearthly package: dead-set predator eyes,matted black mullet, ten-foot-tall golden ibex horns, slender and ridiculous. His helmet,  his chiseled jaw, his skin-tight leather jumpsuit with a tab collar, dyed envy green. I’ve always had a soft spot for bad boys who [make me] cry.

I love Loki’s baritone, his vocal fry, his yowling growl, he’s a walking bruise enraged: Ingrate! He had of me all he could have! O Loki, I want you just and right, sufficient to have stood though free to fall, and, let’s face it: I love just how low you go my clay-footed angel, fallen prince of Asgard.

It wasn’t until Loki’s death in Infinity War that I came to love him. It happened when he became complicated, when he sacrificed himself for a brother he claimed to despise. His shapeshifting made sense, deceit being easier than vulnerability. But my crush felt hopelessly unbalanced. I could love a god, but why would a god love me?

When a nosy journalist probes—always, the famous breakup—Loki’s eyes brim, his gaze flits, his hands raise in surrender. He stutter-laughs, “It’s not for me to say. I couldn’t possibly.” His pain makes me want to prove not all American birds are flighty, heartless Swifts. To save him, I imbue myself with superpowers, swoop in, smash the recorder, pound the table, snarl at the reporter, Get out. The interview is over.

Freedom is life’s great lie, Loki sighs when we’re alone. I lay my hands on his and finish his line: Once you accept that in your heart, you’ll know peace. He smiles cruelly, catches me in his sights—ah yes—we understand each other.

In my dream, Loki kidnaps me for a long weekend in Somerset. By day, we tramp the peaty heath. Our damp afternoon meanderings yield handfuls of old Roman coins buried at the foot of ancient barrows. Loki fingers the treasure, dubs it lucky, kisses my hands. Lends me his cable-knit sweater when I shiver from mist. The fibers hold his scent: salt, milk, nutmeg, steel.

At dusk we huddle by the fire, sip Scotch, and lament our shared histories: estranged warmonger fathers, loving mothers who died, childhood homes we’re banished from. I stroke his slap of silver muzzle and set him free. Plumb me to the last vein, I say. Drill deep. By night he extracts the love I cannot mine from myself. He probes my refuge bays, taps my hidden shafts for vibranium and pyrite, platinum and lead. Precious and worthless, he reaps it all.

Back at his London flat, we cook bolognese from scratch, make a mess on his Viking range. He laps daubs of bloodred sauce from my chin with his forked tongue. I wear his sweater with wellies when we walk his dog at dusk on foggy, gaslit streets. He takes my hands, asks me to be his—in secret, of course, because, you know, the media are monsters.

I kiss him and whisper, I want to be your Zelda Fitzgerald. I want to work at your nonprofit. I want to make the world a better place. I want to be your night manager in a hotel of love. He cocks his head, cups my face, and says, It’s the unspoken truth of humanity, that you crave subjugation.

I can’t disagree.

One night in bed, Loki confesses my undying devotion has undone him. He’s unmasked—and

terrified. I congratulate myself: You’ve cleft a god’s heart in twain. Stupid girl. I don’t see it coming though I know how the play ends, though he’s portrayed the role twice with meticulous

commitment: Betrayal.

During the pandemic Loki moves in with his actress-girlfriend. She can’t appreciate his Aquarian oddities, the depths of his charcoal heart that dares not be broken again. Typical Leo, she’s in it for looks, for pride, for the full-page spread. She loves to be seen on the arm of a ginger thirst trap in slim-cut brown suits. She doesn’t worship his treacherous mind, his flawed plots that never come off. I love Loki as he is, chained and seething. I revel in his deepest secret: the harder it is for a man to be good the more his goodness means. A good person can make all the wrong decisions.

I’ve done it many times.

I tell Loki he’s dead without me. I send assassins. Rat him out to the TVA. My wrath launches his TV series—he should be thanking me—instead, he purrs, “The cycle of retaliation is a fool’s errand,” during an interview with MTV. He faces the camera, eyes flashing like daggers; I imagine he’s speaking to me. In bed, I text: We both know how it feels to lay naked on the slab, waiting for a god to come save you.

He doesn’t answer.

Without Loki, my planet grows cold. I feel every inch of alone. Every day is Wednesday; every

dinner, chicken. Same four walls and self-recriminations. Meetings end for all; the Zoom boxes fall black. I’ve lost my hustle, my errands, my tasks and distractions, the safety net of busy without which I must face how lonely I am—how I, too, am burdened with glorious purpose.

Maybe I’m not in love with Loki but his sizzling body of suffering. It’s not the first time I’ve

confused love with a desire for power. Loki’s promotional photos don’t slake my lust anymore, they fill my mouth with sand, my mislaid obsession a consuming desert, a yearning for the marveled home I’ve never had, a fantasy kingdom I thought I’d long ago given up imagining.

Or so I said. Poor trickster god, foiled again. When Loki turned his back I swiped his tesseract, seeing his shadowy homeland ripe for subversion. In recasting the past, I’ve declared exile my birthright and crowned myself its infinite, frosty queen.


Gabriela Denise Frank is a transdisciplinary storyteller, editor, and educator living in the Pacific Northwest. Her writing has been published in True Story, HAD, X-R-A-Y, Hunger Mountain, Poetry Northwest, Bayou, Baltimore Review, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. The author of “Pity She Didn’t Stay ‘Til the End” (Bottlecap Press), she serves as the creative nonfiction editor of Crab Creek Review. www.gabrieladenisefrank.com


image: MM Kaufman