Scoundrel Time

The Well

Of the two men at the well, one is the bucket
the other is lowering, hand over hand, into the well,
a rope strung around the bucket man’s shoulders,
beneath his arms, between his genitals and thighs.
The weight of the bucket man is making the rope
leap out of its coil, through the hands of the lowering man
like the head and body of a cobra erect in agitation.
Before he strung the rope, the lowering man carved
a trough into the bucket man’s chest. It started
with a shallow dish and then the body caved
under the tenacity of the lowering man’s fingers,
deepening until the tough could carry enough water
from the well to quench what wasn’t quite thirst,
but was the feeling the skin has when it bleats
to be washed. The trough in the bucket man’s body
like a cupped hand only more reliable. The face
of the lowering man receiving the water, but only
after rinsing the trough, discarding the first few
because they were thick and dark with iron.
The lowering man puts the trough to his face.
Feels the pleasure that comes from cleaning
like a mountaintop freshly removed, the overburden
of soil detonated away. He calls down to the villagers,
to his mother and father, and they all heed readily,
wanting to wash the real work from their hands.