the endless trek across the dry places
the lone tree with a pump beneath
a few handfuls of grass greening.
One clear Mason jar full of water.
Stop! You must not drink a drop.
This is what you don’t know—
You must pour it all down the shaft
your parched mouth watching it disappear
into the workings below, the leather cuffs
and steel pistons. Then you pump.
The steel shrieks and groans.
Nothing comes. Despair closes
your throat. Keep pumping.
More resistance now
your arm protests
then great gushes
speed over your hands
cool your feet
open your throat.
In the end you must fill the jar.
Leave it for the next traveler.
This poem was published in Solace in So Many Words, edited by Ellen Wade Beals, Weighed Words Press. Also in my book, The Spaces Between