There are those lands where they may still know how to build water wells
those wells in which they plunge a bucket deep down into the shaft
unwinding its chain. They can feel the bucket breaking the face
of the underground river, wait for it to be filled
and turn the wheel back, until the ice-cold water has come to light
still throbbing with rhythms from the deep, as they yank the bucket up
and tilt it against the stone rim to drink.
There are still these wells in places, where they let the chain unreel
and listen to the deepening echo of the bucket
hitting against the stone lining on its way down,
then they raise the bucket back, the chain strained with the weight.
Soon the crystal-clear water emerges from folds of darkness,
the sun reflected in numberless glittering bits
on the trembling liquid surface just torn from its realm.
There is a land where some may still know how to find
the right ground for a well, they remember
the way they used to dig, their drilling equipment pickaxes
and spades, the well digger’s body descending, tied with a rope
and the team of men – closer than brothers, holding the rope
to secure their mate at work down in the ever
deepening pit. Then pull him safely back. And take turns.
Whoever goes down there can see the starry sky even in midday, people say.
But they, the well diggers, surrounded by legend, are men of few words.
I used to drink from such a well in my ancestor’s yard in the Carpathians
- that taste yearned for, of water that had traveled through time and stone –
when we poured it in a pitcher it steamed the curving glass in seconds.
There may still be such wells, where you let the bucket
descend into a subterranean river
and pull it up, never quite sure it will arrive –
and suddenly it appears, a kind of victory every time, the rich water
quivering with rhythms of a secret world
and you stoop and balance it close to your face
until your breath can touch it - and you drink
that taste we know
under the scorching sun