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June 10, 2014 / Fantelius

The Well Poisoner 1 (by Elvi Sinervo)

RailShadowsStairs0_7983(Background: The children of the village asked Poet Mother why the well had two names, The Poisoner’s Well and the Wise Virgin’s Well?
Poet Mother told them to ask the well, not her.
This is the tale of the well:)

The Poisoner’s Well

The stones of the well began to sing the story
of the history of the well,
the one we had forgotten:

I live though I had to die young so that my wisdom could be known.
I live in the stones of this well and the murmur of the water
even though I was murdered long ago
by those who understood nothing.

Those fools.
They had built their well at the bottom of a dell in my village
where springtime poured the melting snow from the yards,
where the autumn rains washed the sewerage from the alleys.
And they called this puddle
the well of their fathers
When they became sick they bathed in it to get better.
When the well ran dry they prayed to their gods.
When the rains filled it again they praised their gods
and thanked them
by throwing copper coins, jewelry and other junk into the well.

Although I was only a young girl
and no one respected my wisdom
I stood up in front of the village council and said:
“Our well is not blessed. Still water cannot heal.
Let us abandon this foul puddle
so that our village doesn’t die!”

They became angry and chased me away
and send a message to my mother to reprimand me.
My mother cried because of me
and made me weed nettles with my bare hands
so that they could burn out my foolish impudence.
***

But when sickness spread though the village
killing young and old
I sneaked out of the house and went to the council again:
Summon your well diggers and I’ll show them
where they can find a well
with water that can renew the strength of youth.
Your well is no longer blessed,
it is infected with our own disease.

Some of them went into a rage and demanded that I be flogged.
Others laughed the way one laughs at a crazy person
and said:
Let us first test her! Let us summon the well diggers!

I led the well diggers to this place
where I had heard the murmur of underground water
during my wanderings
and I said:
“Here is where the well should be built.

Their well diggers were incompetent
and the divining-rod would not bend in their hands.
But I felt the pulse of the water’s vein under my feet
near the surface.

And they yelled at me, “Liar!”
and gave me twenty lashes for my blasphemy.
From then on the boys in the village began to throw stones at me.
My oldest brother accused me of giving the family a bad name,
and the young man of my desire no longer recognized me.
***

To be continued tomorrow.

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