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
deep.

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?

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    • 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 : )

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  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.

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  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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