Woman at the Well

by Meriwether Clarke

She places her hands on the rim.

Against the stone, her fingers are pale and dry.
They are hands many people touch
but few hold onto.

They know how to untie knots,
how to fold into fists,
how to give away water

but not how to keep it.
She lowers the rope,
she is careful, she is slow.

Thin ice cracks and the bucket sinks.
Her muscles stretch, pulling up.

She reaches down, her face peers back.
Ribbons of skin glide on swells,
white against the black.

She does not try
to piece it back together.
She walks home instead,
careful not to spill a drop,
not to look again.



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