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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.

—Andrew Hudgins

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

Poetry 180

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.