They bring the drowned girl’s body to the house of Samuel, the miller’s son, and arrange
it on the table. The girl’s father pays him to prepare the body for burial. The mother
hands Samuel some folded linens. Waiting by the door is the dead girl’s sister.
Samuel sobs like a child when they are gone. The dead girl is Eye Light, the village girl
Eye Light’s long dark hair falls over the table’s edge. It’s still damp from the pond.
Samuel gets a comb and brush from the stables. He works leaves and twigs from the hair.
Then he brushes it over and over. He takes scissors and cuts it. He wraps the hair in a
cloth. While he washes the body, he’s sorry for William Tanner, whom Eye Light
promised to marry. He places a modesty cap on her head and ties it below her chin.
Night. By lamplight, Samuel loosens the fiddle bow till the horse hair drops away
He unwraps Eye Light’s hair from the cloth and measures it beside the horse hair.
He cuts a piece the same. He twists the ends to fit the bow’s tip and frog. Samuel rosins the bow. White dust falls. Dark hair turns ashy and coarse.
Eye Light’s sister and William Tanner are married. Samuel is invited to fiddle at the wedding feast. When he draws the bow there’s a buzzing, like an angry hive, below the strings. The fiddle shudders as if it’s flesh.
Eye Light’s voice shrieks through the hall like a cadre of bats streaming from a hollow tree.
It was my sister. She pushed me into the water. She has killed me.
Eye Light’s sister pales. She rises and shatters Samuel’s fiddle against the wall.
(poem and photo copyright Cathy Larson Sky October 2013)