The Well by Bruce Guernsey

The Well

The mystery of water underground,
the dark stream where the dead kneel
cupping their pale hands,
splashing the stillness from their eyes.

I drop a stone in ours to hear
if there’s water for the children’s bath.
And if it’s dry, no sound—the pebble
a star, falling through the night.

Here, a rope once hung, a bucket
on its noose. Here, the cattle gathered
summer evenings at the trough,
their dull heads bowed.

No one fishes this hole, or ever did,
though in the cold, moonless pools
fins move through the dark, deep
in the ground, where spawning begins.

by Bruce Guernsey, from From Rain: Poems, 1970-2010.

Editor’s Note: The detailed imagery of this poem creates a narrative space where the reader can imagine a story that extends beyond a simple well, and a simple sound.