They say there was a boy who fell into the well years ago
and his body is still down there.
I was told to stay away,
as if his ghost would coax me into his dark bottomless world.
People even gave him a name – Hector.
And he’d be in my dreams, tiny and pale-faced,
dressed in a blue and white sailor’s suit,
begging me to come out and play.
A parent’s warnings were powerful medicines
but they didn’t work so well in the head.
Here was the danger that stalked innocents –
not the boogie man, not the pedophile cruising
the suburban streets, but reflections of our own selves –
curious and ignorant, edging too close to the holes in the world.
Then they said there was no such boy,
that it merely local legend invented by an older generation
just to frighten off the likes of me.
There were some who said the well served no purpose
and the council should just fill it in.
“Where’s the money coming from?” the mayor asked.
It seemed like make-believe Hector
would go without his decent burial.
Myth or no, the talk planted his seed in my brain.
My nights were his last opportunity for life in death.
“So what’s it like down there?” I’d often ask him.
“Look around you,” he’d reply.
As much as I sought out the world in stages,
there were always opportunities for brutal change at any moment.
Between learning how to read and kiss a girl,
a kid was paralyzed in a car accident.
Right on the verge of his first lesson in algebra,
another fell through the ice.
No one toppled down that well in my time
but I dropped from a tree and sprained an ankle.
And my knees were skinned more often than western settlers.
Nothing ever happened to Hector.
He was dead whether he existed or not.
I survived childhood. He disappeared,
figured I was too old not to know better.
Hector. You fell into that one, didn’t you.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review. To view more of his work Poetry Life & Times & www.artvilla.com
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