I started writing poetry a month ago, trying to find a formal pattern of language that could express ideas that came to me but sounded not quite right in prose. Of course in writing this poem about another culture I have reached for the long European tradition of holy wells, mostly forgotten too in our modern world.
The ink painting, I made some time past.
The Indian Well.
Somewhere on this island,
A dark pool we call the Indian well,
Just back from the beach.
Our island is burdened with the material parts of our culture:
Houses, roads, schools, churches, hospital .....
Our dominant ways of thinking - beliefs, ideas, imaginings - are here too.
Some old settler story perhaps,
Of native people coming in canoes from all up the coast
To visit this well, drink, take the living waters home.
Oh, we could simply drive down a side road today
And slash our way through the undergrowth to that rock-rimmed pool of water,
But that would not be the Indian well, not really.
If we paddled up the inlet by moonlight,
Pulled the canoe onto beach logs and walked naked into the shadows,
We might be getting close to the well, but not quite.
If we had lived a long time ago, and were one of the original tribes,
Then we would easily find it, the magical, curing, water
Reflecting the trees overhead, the shadows of the people, the moon.