Cas­tle well in Sanok, 1936

Part water bar, part dance hall,

the old well plays its role

in romances, the Bible full

of meet-cute stories,

those dark-eyed boys,

lan­guid in speech,

some­times stuttering,

run­ning from the cops,

or an angry father

or a pas­sel of jeal­ous brothers.

That buzz of girls,

Pock­et Venuses

we would have called them,

had they tak­en a turn

into old Greece

instead of hang­ing around

the Lev­ant.

What nation would we have had then,

with­out the bad boys of the Bible,

with­out a desert God who understood

the spell of a well-placed well.

This piece is a part of the Berru Poet­ry Series, which sup­ports Jew­ish poet­ry and poets on PB Dai­ly. JBC also awards the Berru Poet­ry Award in mem­o­ry of Ruth and Bernie Wein­flash as a part of the Nation­al Jew­ish Book Awards. Click here to see the 2020 win­ner of the prize. If you’re inter­est­ed in par­tic­i­pat­ing in the series, please check out the guide­lines here.

Jane Yolen lives in Mass­a­chu­setts and has writ­ten more than 300 books across all gen­res and age ranges. She has been called the Hans Chris­t­ian Ander­sen of Amer­i­ca and the Aesop of the twen­ti­eth century.