Betsy Anderson

                         Woman in the Well

Silence has to have a bottom,
like the old cow well my uncles shoved a stone across,
their groans a bass to the howl the well made as
its mouth was stoppered up.

Only Silence in there now, Mama said.
So underneath the stone I dug a hidey hole wide enough
to poke through acrons, pebbles, and some of Grandma’s
grapes, presents for that woman in the well.

Every time, my offerings tumbled through the damp
and mossy hair of Silence, past the eyes and lips of Silence,
through the longish skirts of Silence, and landed with
a hollow thonk between her feet.

She was ten tigers tall. I counted.
At any time she could have caught my little treats on her
tongue. Or opened her pockets and let them plock in.
Or snagged them in her knotted hands.

That would have changed my understanding,
but luckily Silence was as empty of will as that well was
of water. Or perhaps full of will, showing me young that
everything, even Silence, has limits.

Betsy Anderson, The Comstock Review, Vol. 15, #2.