Trafika Europe 1 - Northern Idyll
drink. He inhaled their sweet womanly aroma, and a female relation from Bakkahella told him that he had always liked it when women were sick, because they were so compliant. She tried to smile, said he had always been a blowhard. No one entered the church. Ever since the measles had come to hold sway, the church only opened its doors to the dead. Up to eight coffins at a time stood on trestles in the choir and down the central aisle. According to established protocol in cases of disease, the coffins were tarred within, and the smell of tar and decay filled the church with a perpetual gloom. The dead were taken from their homes as soon as possible, and they were either washed or prepared in some other way before the cart retrieved them. An old tradition dictated that a corpse’s big toes be bound together to prevent the dead from walking, but measles had undermined most traditions. And who knew if the dead even wanted to walk again. Why would they? In May and June death in Tórshavn was about as naked as it could get, and to ghost around when autumn storms were shrouding the city in a salt sea fog – that was something one could not bid the living or the dead. Adelheid dried her tears and smiled. What a bizarre coffin flotilla it must be, she thought, that met out on eternity’s waters. The sails were whatever clothes people had been wearing when they died: nightgowns, pants, shawls, and tattered shifts.
Made with FlippingBook