- A Black Spot, and: Digging a Well
A Black Spot
The first bird I shotwas a robin with my BB gun.I was looking into the sunat a tall pine where a black spotflickered on a long limb. [End Page 105] I aimed and fired, notexpecting anything to happen,but a winged shadow fellto the forest floor. I ranto see what I had hitand found a punctured breast,three beads of blood.With two sticks, I picked upthe limp, feathered song,help me forget, and flung itinto the woods.I climbed the tall pineand discovered, help me, a nestof chicks, their orange beaks open,trembling, flames of fire.I did not dirge I killed your motherand cast myself to the ground.No. I sang a single copper notedown each throat, raninside when called for supper.
Digging a Well
By hand, with a blunted pickax,a plastic bucket, and a sledge—a spade's no good in stony ground.Six feet, and still no water.
Moses struck the rock and blissgushed out, not blood from blisters,not curses from a cracked tongue.Each strike I make makes more rock. [End Page 106]
Tell my wife the kids can lickthe dust from my boots to quenchtheir thirst. I have visions of hergiving suck and powder coming out.
Seven feet. Might as well be seventytimes seven. How the devil's a manto drink? Drive the pick into his heart?A well without water is a tomb.
Jim Richards's poems have appeared recently in Texas Review, Poet Lore, Literature and Belief, the Fertile Source, and Contemporary American Voices. He currently serves as poetry editor of Irreantum.