Psychopomp Magazine Spring 2016 - Page 7

David Wirthlin | 7

wonder why they never entered the old river, why they could never fully submit to its invitation to the sea coast. They will wonder if their deaths are Sovnig Oye’s fault or their own, but they will never know. They’ve simply become trees.

Sovnig Oye descends her tower, unburdened by what these things mean. She will find more followers and trim her hair for them, stuff those devoted enough, fill their hollow bodies, and Those Less Devoted will dry out and become trees. In time Those Less Devoted will bear fruit desirable. She’ll consume their fruit, and once they’ve born fruit and it’s been devoured, Those Less Devoted trees will wither, return to dust. She will find more Those Less Devoted to tree.

Ever since the sky turned yellow, Sovnig Oye has been limited to her section of The City, so she relies on followers to enter her area. She has never before been wanting, but now it’s been two years and all her trees are dried out and wilted, and there haven’t been more Those Less Devoted to replenish her supply of fruit bearers. Only Alex, Her Most Devoted continues on with her, but she does so as a body stuffed of hair, soaked from the river, drowned in the sea, dead and re-dead continually.

I don’t think I can give you more hair, Sovnig Oye tells Alex, Her Most Devoted on the occasion of her most recent return from death by sea. You have been my most devoted. You have been around through so many versions of Those Less Devoted. You’ve seen them tree and bear fruit, wither and die. I no longer have any of Those Less Devoted. I lack nourishment. My hair simply isn’t growing anymore. I’m sorry.

In her devotion, Alex, Her Most Devoted, offers herself: Your hair has sustained me so long, stuffed me, kept me warm in death and re-death. How can I not offer it to you? Here, she says, reaching deep into her mouth, removing a large cluster of wet hair, matted and crusted with salt. She holds