Inside the Well,
by Rebecca Aronson

Darkness is only a small part of the problem.
Your vision works fine—you’ve tested it

in daylight. But now
you are underground on dusty earth
that was once underwater

like the seafloor. And as in the desert
that was once a seafloor
there will be remnants
for the observant. A smell, say,

where water-soaked walls
dried gradually and without light; chalky ridges
marking levels, a testimony

to the vanished. Things happen slowly here.
Buckets may have splashed down
suddenly, but first the well cover

was pulled away with a deep
thunderous scraping, notifying.

There are no skeletons disintegrating
underfoot. There is only you, breathing
tentatively, continually testing,
one eye on the weather,

a half moon window’s worth of starlight
flashing a memory of brightness
into your dilated pupils.

Here, sleep is a state
you might enter without knowing
and waking a kind of furor

your heart pays for with interminable
drumming. But the walls become pastures,
wide and long and greening up

with an exuberant stubble
and now you are passing through
on foot without obstruction

and here and there are cairns,
though who left them and what they are for
is not known, but you’ll search

for your own stone, one smoothed and glossy,
to add to a pile, to show you were once here.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 15, Issue 3.

Rebecca Aronson’s first book Creature, Creature won the Main-Traveled Press poetry book contest and was published in 2007. Her poems have appeared in Tin House, the Georgia Review, Cream City Review, Mas Tequila Review, Quarterly West, and others.

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