Hope Springs

We had an old well in my childhood home
My mother nicknamed it “Hope Springs”
And when she’d pull up the water, she’d smile and say
“Drink up. Everyone could use a drop of hope.”

I remember the water from Hope Springs
It tasted different than other water
It was cooler somehow
Smoother somehow
It slid down your throat and down to your belly and seemed to warm you from the inside
A tingly feeling that rippled from your head to your fingertips to your toes
If I was ever scared or anxious or sad or just unsure of myself
I would drink from the well
And it seemed to make everything just a little bit better
I believed it was magic
That it could cure almost anything

Standing here, outside the house, ten years later,
I know better than to believe in magic water
When you’ve been through a war it feels as if all magic has been drained from the world
What I had experienced – what I had seen – could not be cured

My house used to be a beautiful cottage
Flowers blooming in the front yard
Clean white walls
With a smart blue trim on the windows
Now it is black and grey
Charred and broken in bits from bombs
Most of it no longer stands
But instead lays crumbled on the ground
As sad and damaged as the rest of us
A piece of glass from the window lays before my feet on the dead grass
I can just barely make out the blue trim underneath the jet black charring

Everything has changed now
Nothing is the same

The only thing that still stands is Hope Springs
I don’t know how she did it
How she stood so tall and strong
She was already a very old well
She had been on the property long before us
I’d thought she might be the first to pass
But there she was
Cracked a little maybe
And dusty
But still herself
I walked over to her longingly
Lowered the rope with the bucket down into the water
And pulled it back up
The same way my mother used to
I expected the water to be dirty but it was crystal clear

For old time’s sake
I took a sip of the water

It went down like silk
And warmed my belly
I felt a tingling run through my body
And then I felt a most peculiar thing
I felt a weight lift off of me
One that I had been carrying for a long, long, time
I hadn’t realized how heavy it was until it was gone
It was like giant boulders had been lifted from my back, my heart, my stomach, and my mind
And for the first time in nearly a decade, I felt like everything might just be okay after all
Like there was a chance for the human race
And for me
I felt something resembling peace
The water’s magic, it seemed, had gone unharmed

A familiar thought came to me
A phrase I hadn’t heard in years
And I smiled
Eyes tearing
Because I could hear her voice in my head saying
“Drink up. Everyone could use a drop of hope.”

– Lucy Schwartz

Note: I do not own the photograph included in this post, but I always try to link photos to their original source (when I can find it). If you want to find out more about the beautiful image & the photographer you can click on the image.

The Dig (The Art of Uncovering A Story)

Cloudy-headed thoughts arrive
Wanting to tell me something
Wanting to show me something
I follow the thoughts and find myself standing in a plot of unearthed land
And somehow I know, deep within,
There are treasures hiding underneath the soil

I notice a shovel
Lying in the dew-covered morning dirt,
I grab the shovel and – for no logical reason – I dig
And dig
And dig
Hours pass
The sun peeks out from the clouds
Heating the air
And baking my skin
Steam rising off of me
And dripping in small pools down my brow
I dig and I dig
Forgetting myself
Forgetting the time
Forgetting all sensible actions
Until I hit something hard
A wooden object
Like a stick
Upon it
Engraved words
From another’s language
I have no idea what the text means
But it is beautiful to look at
Sweeping and lyrical phrases
Which envelop the eyes in a type of visual symphony
And it is old, this object,
Maybe hundreds of years old
I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life
And somehow, at the same time, it is eerily and most-lovingly familiar to me

I continue to carve the object out from the earth
Moving moistened brown dirt up and away
My arms tiring,
Aching and sore,
But my heart a-flutter
Thrilled by the discovery
And as I uncover it more fully
I realize that what I was seeing before, was just a single leg
Out of four
Belonging to a chair

After many hours of labor
The chair is freed from the earth

I hoist it up with all my strength
Set it upon the ground
And gaze at it with wonder

My brain is pulsing with questions
Why was I led here?
Why did I listen to this insane instinct of mine to dig?
How did I know to dig in this exact spot?
And what is this ancient relic?

Is it something I lost long ago that has found it’s way back?
Or is this our first meeting?

And who carved it originally?
Some mysterious and forever nameless face from centuries past
Did this long-gone stranger want it to be found or to remain hidden?
What would they think if they knew this object had ended up in my hands?
Or did the ghost of this stranger always intend for me to find it?

Was it fate that brought me to this strange and beautiful object?
Or simply blind luck?

A part of me even wonders…
Did it always exist there, under the soil?
Or did I somehow dream it into being?

And now that I have birthed it from the earth,
Does it belong to me?

I’m not sure I know
I’m not sure I’ll ever know
But somehow I was led here,
And for now at least,
The mystery of it belongs to me.

-Lucy Schwartz