May/June 2022 • Vol. XLIV No. 3 Nature’s Nature |

The Well, Rural Route 1 Box 43

What wasn’t hidden wasn’t plainly there. Year by year I tracked our well’s steel-capped PVC-pipe headpost leaning vaguely as it disappeared in cedar-shrub, growing palisade, evergreen and tight. I liked to crawl back and stare into the source, rampant for cool air ushering up, signal of elsewhere. Elsewhere — under three feet of soil, ground up by glacier, laid over clay fourteen times thicker, world-making drab stacked on another twenty feet sand, loam, lost downs, next a lake in shale, no eye sees it, shifty slab in its bed, and trilobites pressed in their portraits of absence. I’d pry up the flap and disinter cobwebs. I’d pry up that plywood, startle the ages with a blast of my torch (torche, Old French for a twist of hemp dipped in pitch and lit) as that flashlight’s beam catches contours, casts odd shadows. Spiders twitch. Each of us living

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Jesse Nathan is a lecturer in the English Department at UC Berkeley. His poems appear in Paris Review, Yale Review, the Nation, and elsewhere. He grew up in rural Kansas and lives now in San Francisco.

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What wasn’t hidden wasn’t plainly there. Year by year I tracked our well’s steel-capped PVC-pipe headpost leaning vaguely as it disappeared in cedar-shrub, growing palisade, evergreen and tight. I liked […]

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