A journal of narrative writing.
Well Tending

for Cara

In late afternoon, we came to the creek’s feed,
a point along the slope of the hill where the run
clogged into a green deep, where mere trickles
of water slipped over the rock’s gray ribs.
Violent flood had lodged a log there, reshaping
the flow into cold stillness. With a branch, you prodded,
and did not fall in, for which I was grateful.

I liked the small stream, the way nature had drifted
the log like a dam, as if one storm could replicate
the long efforts of beavers to pool water behind them.

In Ireland, you said. They tend such wells
with the names of Celtic saints, brush out debris
when it lingers on the water in falling autumn,
bless them with clooties, tie their rags like prayers
in the branches above their reflections.

You repaired the stream, cleared its offal,
your reflection stabbing upward with its stick.
I call this my well-tending, you said
as the gentle falls rushed white again.
This was your offering.

In late spring, I traveled to the Shannon.
The river coursed gray as rain, thick with silt
off damaged hills. I found no saints, only rags
swamped and dirty with a rising tide.

After Ireland, I returned to our well, to new bleats
and noise in the stream. The course had changed.
Trail experts had cleared detritus
from last year’s hurricane while I was gone.
Still, our dark pool remained above the falls,
preserved by its thick chest of rock.

I crept to the water and stared down.
My own face rose toward me,
drowned in that dark green,
made pure again.