Ed Meek


For your sins you must pay.
For the sin of hope
your penance shall be cynicism.
For the sin of happiness
your penance is despair.
For the sin of love
your penance will be loneliness.

And the heavens shall open
the deluge come forth.
And you shall fall
to your knees to crawl
on your belly and cry out
in the wilderness.

Because this life like no other
is the life of debt.
And the debt shall be paid.


On a crisp April morning you walk out to the well,
bucket in hand. As you walk the bucket swings.
You take care not to let it bruise your hip. It is heavy,
old and worn--the metal frame has cut you before
and once, the band broke, the bucket fell apart,
and you had to glue it back together piece by piece.

At the well you hook the handle to the rope
and lower the bucket down into the darkness--
you make a circle with your fingers
and the rope slides through.

You lean over the well and reach down.
You hear the water bubbling into the bucket
and you begin to pull it up hand over hand.
It is much heavier than you expected
and you are suddenly overcome by exhaustion.

Years ago, you had only to dip the bucket
just below the surface of the earth and it came back brimming,
but each year you have to lower the bucket more.
Now you find yourself at the end of your rope.