Droughtless Well

Point of order. I am retrieving a poem I had selected some weeks ago that I didn’t know what to do with. Conscience compels me to keep this practice orderly and work with the poems that Chance places in my hand. So here is Emily’s thought on the source of life:

#460, c. 1862

I know where Wells grow — Droughtless Wells —
Deep dug — for Summer days —
Where Mosses go no more away —
And Pebble — safely plays —

It’s made of Fathoms — and a Belt —
A Belt of jagged Stone —
Inlaid with Emerald — half way down —
And Diamonds — jumbled on —

It has no Bucket — Were I rich
A Bucket I would buy —
I’m often thirsty — but my lips
Are so high up — You see —

I read in an Old fashioned Book
That People “thirst no more” —
The Wells have Buckets to them there —
It must mean that — I’m sure —

Shall We remember Parching — then?
Those Waters sound so grand —
I think a little Well — like Mine —
Dearer to understand —

She would rather sit with her own depth, little though it be compared to the grand spiritual traditions of the world, promises made by the mythologies preserved in Old Books. The water that truly quenches a thirst is the water, the sustenance, that she finds within herself. That is a satisfaction she can understand.

Emily is so modest. She refers to her own well as “little”. But the Kingdom of Heaven lies in a mustard seed. Or so I’ve heard. Quantum physics points to the greatest mystery of all at the sub-atomic level where one electron can be in two places at one time, and the smallest center of everything is dark space, moving constantly. Nothing is solid.

So Emily’s “little well” possesses all the depth she needs because it is hers, and it’s the direct experience of her own being. It makes sense. It does not have the bucket needed to bring the water up to the top. The bucket is the philosopher or the priest or the shaman. The one in the community who explains what is down there in the dark and brings the wisdom up from the depths of the subconscious to the upper air, where the rest of us, too afraid of the dark to go ourselves, wait for sustenance. Some are chosen to descend. Others wait above. The truth hovers below the words.

Emily’s well does not need a bucket because she is both the source of the water, as well as the one who thirsts. Her job is to sit beside her well and know the wisdom lies in her own depths, not in the pages of an old fashioned book. Ironically it is also her job, as poet, to struggle for the right words. That is her thirst that may never be quenched. All words, any words, fall short.

This morning, during meditation, I sank into the darkness behind my eyes. A space where there is no time and no borders, no distinctions. Just the vast, unrolling dark. And the breath moving up and down my spine. In midst of a chaotic world, and when is it ever not chaotic, this is the only thing that does make sense.

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