The Woman and The Well

The Woman and the Well (2018)
24 x 18 in
acrylic, paper, graphite, wheatpaste on canvas board


*published in Not Crazy, Crying Out 
as "She and the Wolf"*

I was the Veal
kept immobile
so my flesh would be soft when eaten

I was the elephant
The one they got as a baby
That had thick heavy chains
placed around her ankle
so that she learned at that early age
it was beyond her strength to fight
that she was too small and weak
to pull the stake from the ground
So even though she grew up,
so much stronger
she would look at her chains
and not even try to run away
because she had been taught and learned long ago that she was stuck
and it was long ago she gave up 

I was the girl
chained to the dry well
who grew to love her dry well because it was hers
And she was bound
so she might as well make herself at home
Might as well make herself a home

She made pretty etchings in the stone
she drew pictures in the dirt
she sang and said hello to all the birds and bugs and animals that passed her by
But she was dying
of thirst and didn’t know it
One day some one came across this girl chained to the well
and unlocked her chains
Cut them all off

But she just sat there
because where was she going to go? 

The person was offended that the girl was not grateful for being rescued, 
that she didn’t leave right away
so he went on his way
not wanting to waste his time
on her

It took the girl a very long time
to realize she was no longer chained
to the well, but she did come to understand that
she could go if she wanted to,
but she didn’t really want to
even though she was very thirsty
She had been thirsty so long;
she had never known life without thirst
so she didn’t know she was dying

of thirst
she was also
very curious
and that feeling she did know Where were all those bugs and birds and animals going?
Where had they been today?

She had always thought
comings and goings
were for birds and bugs and animals, not for little girls
who lived chained to wells

One day a rabbit came by
She decided to inch her way over to the rabbit, but she moved too quickly
and the rabbit ran away

Then one day she saw a crow
She walked closer to the crow. She remembered how she scared the rabbit away
so she moved much slower this time
She got very close to the crow
as close as she could
until it flew away
She looked back
and she was away from the well,
not that far, but far enough
that she understood

that she was not chained that nothing stopped her from going
But nevertheless
she returned to the well
The next day
A deer came
She watched the deer silently
so as not to scare it away
When it began to move away grazing
she followed the deer down a trail keeping her distance
She followed the deer
quite far into the woods
and could no longer see
her dry well
She panicked and ran back

The next day she secretly wished the deer would come back
But the next day a wolf came

She decided to follow it
It moved slower than the deer

Unlike the other animals
the wolf was not afraid of the girl The wolf knew she was following and it would look back

to make sure the girl was still following
and it led her to a cave
The sun was going down
and she was very far
from her dry well
But the cave was also very dark and scary The cave was the wolf’s home

And she did not want
to go inside
So the wolf went into the cave alone, with a suite-yourself air
as it left the girl outside, alone

The girl found a rock
and curled up beside it
Darkness of night fell
and she trembled at the unfamiliar sounds, she didn’t know these crows,
she didn’t know these trees,
they sounded different as the wind
howled through their leaves
and all night long she heard a trickling,
a ceaseless noise that kept her awake because she didn’t know
what it was

She didn’t sleep all night, she was too scared
Her body shook
until the first light of day
When the morning birds began to sing,
she felt safe enough to find her way back to the dry well

It took her a long while
but she got to the dry well.
She was so tired from the dangerous night away, so she tried to take a nap

But even though she was no longer in the deep woods near the cave she could still hear the trickling
It bothered her

She tossed and turned on the ground
next to the well, agitated. What was that noise she heard?
It was as if it was even louder in her mind
even louder now that
she was in a place that she couldn’t hear it

“This is useless, I can’t sleep,” she said to herself. 
So she got up and went back into the woods. 
She was on her own this time, she was not following any animals...she was no longer following anything at all
She was tracking, she was searching, she was hunting for the trickling sound. 

The desire to know what the sound was had overtaken her desire to feel safe next to the dry well
And so she began to explore the woods
She crossed over fallen logs,
pushed through bushes and vines,
and followed the trails of wild boar
She saw new birds and bugs and animals
and became familiar with them, so they
no longer scared her
She found berry rambles
and ate what she found,
some bitter, some sweet
She found flowers and skunks and fire ants and saw more deer

But she still hadn’t found the tricking sound And some days she forgot that she was looking for the sound to at all
One day she ended up back at the cave The wolf was there sitting at it’s entrance A dead, half eaten rabbit lay by its side
And she heard the trickling.
It was coming from the cave.
But she would have to go past the wolf to get to the sound

The wolf growled at her, protecting its kill
The dead, half eaten body of the rabbit still bled and the blood ran down
It dripped onto the girl’s feet
It was still warm

She stepped closer to the wolf and it snarled, glaring.
But the girl moved even closer, slowly Moving only a little bit at a time

she hugged the boulder wall and kept her eyes on the wolf until she made it through the entrance
and slipped into the cave

There she found the trickling sound
Water was dripping down the walls and forming a pool on the cave floor
She touched the walls, felt the cool water instinctually tasted it and licked her fingers, then licked the wall.

Instantly she felt a feeling she had never in her life felt,

it was so foreign and strange
She went to the pool and began scooping the water out with her hands
drinking, drinking until her stomach hurt

and then she lay by the pool and slept
For days and days she stayed in the cave, just she and the wolf
And she grew stronger and happy and brave
One day she felt homesick for the dry well
By now she had learned to navigate the woods and got to the dry well easily

But because she had been away
and seen so many other things,
the dry well didn’t look so good anymore
For the first time she could see just how dry the well was. There was no water to be found anywhere. That where she had slept was dust. Her etchings on the stone sides of the dry well seemed sad now. Her drawings in the dirt had blown away. How little she’d known and seen when she made them
The things that made the dry well her home
no longer made her feel at home
She felt like a stranger to this place
And she began to see home was not about
the dry well at all, but what she had put there, the time she had spent there
And she no longer felt loyal to the dry well, so she left

She went back through the lush woods, over the fallen logs, down the wild boar trails, past the berry rambles, under the crows in the trees, to the cave and the wolf
The blood of the rabbit was still on the boulder. She placed her hand in the blood and with this blood she covered the walls of the cave with new drawings. New Home. A home of her choosing
No Longer chained to a dry well
No longer with flesh soft like veal
No longer the elephant tied to a little stake in the ground, ignorant to her own strength Strength.

And the cave of she and the wolf In the deep wonderful woods became her home
forever and ever there after