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Poetry Pleases: The Well

Caroline Glyn's poem concerns the wonder of water, and those creatures which live in it.

They came in the night
to break up the pavement.
Each blow streaked the white
marble with black,
ugly with noise
and the jarred pool
quivered in rings;
but the fish in the depths
that glowed like embers
swam in their own poise.
Fissure and crack
threaded the marble
which held the springs -
translucent it was;
they said the water
shone through the floor.
Now the fine branchings
of the bare tree
reflected so long
finer yet were drawn
in the suffering stone,
and it split at last;
the shining pavement
was parting and flaking
into white gems,
beaten again
and again breaking;
and from each fragment
starlight rayed
as delicate as bone.
Such purity of light
had never been released,
but the fish needed none.
The tree was shaking,
its roots unearthed
as the pounding went on;
the pool was spilling,
the marble broken
smaller and smaller
and at last ground
so fine it was blowing
away like Stardust,
a luminous cloud;
the men ceased,
weary, sweating,
nodded to each other,
glanced at the water
(as dark as blood)
and shouldered their picks.
One lingered, stooped
for a morsel of marble.
Their footsteps were gone,
hastening away
from the pool in flood.
It was running out dark
from the tree's roots
but the fish had no fear.
And the white dust
of the pavement of the god
filled the night air,
now so dispersed
it was nothing but light;
the darkness shone
with transmuted stone.
The water ran alive
from the wound in the earth
spreading downhill,
but the fish swam on
in wisdom of their own,
embers in the well.


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