back to the well.

Self portrait (2022) in engagement portrait (2004)
Now I've come to look at love
in a new way. It's a deep resource,
one that's renewable in surprises
& cycles. Dig fifty one-foot wells, 
you're not likely to find water.
So you dig one fifty-foot well.

Now I dig deep, I know
what nourishes & refreshes,
what cleanses & glistens.

Go back to the well. Let loose
the bucket. Feel the rope go 
slack in your hands. A long silence
as you wait & trust. The empty
vessel falling into the darkness.
A blessing you hear before you
taste it. A distant slap & splash.
You tug & jerk, cajoling it to
just the right angle for a fullness
of relief, for a chance to drink

But take your time.
Hand over hand.
Too hasty a pull will upset
what you hoped for. 

Inspired by, among other things, the gospels, Frost's Directive, and the opening of Sharon Olds' Unspeakable

7 responses to “back to the well.”

  1. I love all the directions you provide for us to explore as well as the “water from the well” apt metaphor: “…A long empty silence/as you wait & trust.” Just revisited Frost and Olds—see what I mean?


    • Thanks so much! The Frost one isn’t often taught, but it’s one of his best. In my notes to it, I wrote that a critic once called it a poem hard to understand, but easy to love : )


  2. Gorgeous poem, Joel. I read it several times so that I wasn’t simply reading the shallow part but dipping my bucket deep into your words before raising them into my mind and making meaning.


  3. Relationships that evolve over time and marriage in general has been at the forefront of my mind during the pandemic, so I appreciate the various directions this took immensely. I read it twice. You’re a beautiful poet. Cool photo, too.


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