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Elizabeth Tibbetts
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In the Well

"There was a trout,"
said the old woman who lived here,
if I can believe the one who called me
always by the wrong name, who accused
me of stealing her blind—she could still see
that I had what once was hers.
                                             Once, she was
a young woman whose man lowered a shining trout
in a bucket into the well he had dug, digging
his body deeper until she saw only brow
and then no man at all. She dreamed
of the fish circling the underground, feeding
on lost insects and worms, while snakes coiled
between the cold stones above the water's surface.
The fish dreamed of other fins and tails
and pale, speckled bellies. And when the fish saw
that the woman lifted the cover and poured In the sun
did it believe she would jump, her descent
and splash slowed by its joy at her approaching
toes, her moon-colored thighs,
the drifting skirt, her hair streaming up
like pickerel grass, bubbles of light
rising around her as if she carried the sky
down to live in the watery dark, emitting gold
and green and blue?
                               There was a woman, a fish,
and a man whose hands placed the stones
where a face looks up now from that plate of sky.

© 2010 Beloit Poetry Journal       Design by Jim Parmenter