My mother said not to play near the old well, but she didn’t say a thing about playing in it. We were all there, even Big George, on the blistering summer day that Small George fell into the well, never to be seen again, like Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole, minus enchantment. In the heat of the moment, we made a blood-brother pact to deny our part in his death, and to this day our parents believe that Small George wandered off from the group and, unobserved, fell headlong into the deep well. The lollipop trees were in full bloom that day; their heady fragrance made us delirious, we decided to see how far we could put our heads down the well without lifting our feet off the ground. Small George was the shortest, so we turned a blind eye to his feet, as long as his head went down there. He was crying that day, we made him fill his mouth with pebbles and drop them into the well one by one, while we listened long and hard to them plopping into the water. It was an initiation ritual, we had all done it at one time or another. Immediately we knew he hadn’t survived his fall. In subsequent years when the lollipop blossom gave off the first scent of summer, I would walk to the well. One year Big George was ahead of me, standing there alone. I stood next to him. What are you doing here, I asked. I don’t know, he shrugged, it seems like the most peaceful place to be
Clare Chu was raised in Malta and England, and has adopted Los Angeles as her home. She is an art curator, dealer, lecturer and writer who has authored and published twelve books and numerous academic articles on Asian art. This year she was a participant in San Miguel Poetry Week. Her poetry is featured in a continuing collaboration with Hong Kong-based calligraphic and landscape painter Hugh Moss, in which poet and artist challenge and expand traditional media boundaries. Her poetry is published, or is forthcoming, in The Comstock Review, The Esthetic Apostle, Cathexis Northwest Press, Rue Scribe and 2River View.