Deep Well

Mesándel Virtusio Arguelles

Once, something will fall by accident
into a well long devoid of water. Like a coin
it will clink when it hits the deepest point, echoing
at the hollow suddenly surrounded by children: think of
how to haul up what was not supposed to fall

If you look out, what will look back at you is one pensive
gaze. You will let go one wish, which will appear as if
it were forever falling in the split second before reaching
the very bottom that has long ago dried up. It will ripple
and you will feel the lingering thirst seemingly quenched


Why say that a word is profound. The well will be
surrounded by children. Why say that a well is deep
if the word can bring up the word. In the mouths
of children, dangling in their tongues are wishes
Why keep holding on to a promise. Once more

you wish for a poem. One poem from the word to fall
again. Again, the darkness quickly consumes the word
falling from your mouth, there is no hoping for
whether it reaches the deepest point. The mouth stays
on top of the world there’s no shutting the void


You cannot climb out of a well in the image of a well
The word you are about to put into words persistent
in getting through to you. What you raise cannot be raised
not forever. Once the children have gone home
you quietly approach what they have surrounded, closely 

making out what they have spent one day figuring out how
to haul up—they even let fall what was not meant to fall
You slowly lower the bucket tied to a rope, slide
across your palms the threadbare strand of time
while the mouth of the well seems to swallow your tongue


Left out by time nothing is left behind but this—
an open mouth waiting for the trickling outcome
that has no apparent cause. One day the sun will come out
and find what it has long been searching for: the shadow that once
went down not getting up for a long time


You cannot drain the image of a well: one hundred wells
Consider that there are one hundred wells in the direction of the spring
that needs to be drained from the surface of the earth before reaching
the deepest point: one hundred wells. Anything can be brought up
anything can be dropped. You cannot keep under wraps

what stays open for every tomorrow that is not part
of every opening of the world until tomorrow becomes the end. You
see yourself when you peer into the well you are sleeping
open-mouthed dreaming of what cannot be raised talking
in your sleep out of reach of the word that is falling

translated from the Filipino by Kristine Ong Muslim