There is somewhere an aged stone well
in a lonely grove of tangled trees,
faded in the shade,
distilling in the eucalyptus smell
a whisper-scent of cave,
where some little curious boy
has found the ancient well a toy,
dropping bombs with sound effects--
tiny stones, bark chips, shards of glass,
and any other splashables that he can find.
He stands on tip-toe, single-minded,
furrowed brows aimed at the depths.
His wide eyes strain to catch a faint glimpse
of the plume of the down-deep splash;
but the dark remains impenetrable.
At least his ears are fast tuned in
to lasso in the cheery rings,
the echoing, the ripples slapping up against
the cold stone slippery sides until it stops
and flinching silence waits again a drop.
Over above this scene I sit myself
to see myself seeking then what now I have become.
Never once could I have guessed
through the thousand twists and turns
how the way would lead and how
the stones and shards would fall;
how the splash would coat the mossy ledge;
how the crumbling mortar on the edge
would flake into the damp abyss
somewhere drifting down to silt
to form a ground that I would help
to shape but never see.
The phantoms then were lines and specks
upon the eye against the dark
with no relation to the phantoms now
upon the dark against the eye
that I can see against my wish,
splashes reaching well beyond the well’s rough lip
with a startling cold, the shock of it
the familiar ghosts I know so well
still catching me by surprise.
This is the current draft of a revised and expanded version of a poem I wrote back in the early 90’s called Somewhere a Well. This poem is being rewritten with my current chapbook project Somewhere Phantoms in mind as a candidate for the title poem. The chapbook means to explore memory, childhood, and identity. This particular poem evolved into an exploration of the difference between the opaqueness of a child’s imaginative view of the future, and the visceral nature of memory looking back, especially in the bitterness of regret.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com. Creative Commons License.