“Fisherman’s Daughter,” Jules Breton, WikiArt.

Barefoot girl of ten, rambling rocky ridges,
Eyes on far-away places, Willow sang in
Evenings, voice clear, warm hearth stones
Standing, eyes closed, slight rocking
Movement to Scottish melodies unheard
For fifty year. As her mother, I watched in
Wonder at my auburn haired girl. “Child,
Where did you learn these songs?” She
Smiled, kept on singing, rapt emotion
With each refrain, until spell had eased.

Was Willow ill beyond our understanding?
Skiff-arriving mainland doctor, pulse taking,
Chest, back listening, could find no maladies,
Until sun-streaming light took Willow’s mind.
Rocks she piled, turning, flipping, fitting into
Place. In silence, we watched as she sang her
Melodies, stone fence building, Short stretch,
Angle turning, waist high, huddling place,
Wind breaking, whilst sheep tending, old
walls, crumbled, we recognized.

“Clearly not herself,” doctor surmised, as
Barefoot Willow, faerie possessed we feared,
Hillside scampered, wind-dancing, heeding
Not our calls, into cloud-stretched heights
Disappeared. Her bedroom we searched,
Beneath mattress, crocheting needles, half-
Completed green shawl, pattern, style I
Recognized, faint feeling, I collapsed upon
Willow’s bed. “We must find her,” doctor
Advised, interrupted by peals of chapel bell.

“Portrait of an Old Woman,” Guido Reni, 1630, WikiArt.

We knew mournful “black bell,” as we called
It, fishing family funeral, or egg-searching
Boy cliff-falling to his death. “Do you believe
In island magic, doctor, touching mind, heart?”
He smiled. “I know what affects my girl, ringing
Death knell. Come back to me, Willow,” I said,
Child startled at my voice. “Grandma Rose,
You lived your life, leave Willow alone.”
“She knows what I know,” countered Rose,
Skills for island life.” Wisp of fleeting light,
Rose’s spirit disappeared from sight.

Thanks for reading. 

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