“In the Well” by Andrew Hudgins
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
In the Well
My father cinched the rope, a noose around my waist, and lowered me into the darkness. I could taste my fear. It tasted first of dark, then earth, then rot. I swung and struck my head and at that moment got another then: then blood, which spiked my mouth with iron. Hand over hand, my father dropped me from then to then: then water. Then wet fur, which I hugged to my chest. I shouted. Daddy hauled the wet rope. I gagged, and pressed my neighbor's missing dog against me. I held its death and rose up to my father. Then light. Then hands. Then breath.
first published in The Southern Review, 2001
Volume 37, Number 2, Spring 2001
Copyright 2001 by Andrew Hudgins.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of The Southern Review. Copyright 2001 by Andrew Hudgins. For further permissions information, contact Andrew Hudgins, English Dept., Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43221
About the Poet
Poet Andrew Hudgins was born in Killeen, Texas, in 1951. The eldest son in a military family, Hudgins moved around the American South for much of his childhood, eventually attending Huntingdon College and the University of Alabama. He earned his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1983. His poetry is known for its dark humor, formal control, and adept handling of voice. Hudgins’s first book, Saints and Strangers (1986), was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize; his third collection, The Never-Ending (1991), was a finalist for the National Book Award.
Learn more about Andrew Hudgins at The Poetry Foundation.