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Grandma Pisan

On Pentecost the cart stopped for the first time in front of

the Geil house. Grandfather opened the door and Nils

Tvibur and another man came in to retrieve Pisan, or

Grandma Pisan, as the children called her.

Pisan was from Hestoy, and when Farmer Támar’s oldest

son got her pregnant, and she gave birth to a daughter, she

took her own child’s life.

That’s what Old Tóvó told his great grandson several years


Pisan gave birth to her daughter in a peat shed up on the

island, he said. And the child was healthy. She smelled so

freshly of the womb; Pisan could feel the warm breath from

the newly developed lungs against her neck and chin. She

said the breath from the small nostrils and tiny mouth was

like a storm, the strongest she had ever experienced. She

put the baby to her breast, and when the child had nursed

its fill, Pisan did what plenty other unmarried mothers did

during the slave law


years – she killed her own child. With

the little nape trustfully resting against her hand, she

pressed her thumb to the baby’s throat, and when its


Law passed in 1777 that forbid anyone who did not own land from marrying.