David Cook

AFTER THE QUARREL

Amusing to lower the bucket into the well,

especially since I saw nothing but blackness there.

 

Amusing, too, the sound of it hitting the water,

a simultaneous slackening of the rope

 

and a jagged flicker of light

glancing back through the dark.

 

After that the bucket sank slowly

until my hand closed on the rope’s double knot.

 

I hadn’t foreseen that the bucket

wouldn’t reach to the bottom. Galling —

 

as though a straight question had been shirked,

or worse, was deemed too trivial to entertain.

Commentary

My maternal grandfather was a farmer and I remember, as a boy, being fascinated by a well on his land. The poem, written recently, was at a time I was smouldering about a disagreement with someone. Only as I wrote the last two lines did it become fully clear to me why I was writing about the well.