Then I talk to myself.
“Here, read this.”
“This? What is it?”
“A poem by Robert Frost. It’s called ‘For Once, Then, Something.”
“What’s it about?”
“A water well, I think, but knowing Robert Frost, I’d say it’s about more than that.”
“Pass it here, then. . . . . . . . .hm. Nice . . .No, pensive.”
“Hm. I s’pose. What do you think he’s saying, though? Why look for the water beyond the reflection and then write a poem about what you saw when you glimpsed beyond it?”
“You already said that you don’t really think it’s about the well or the water. I agree with you. Why else would he have added ‘truth’ to the short list of things it might’ve been that he saw for a moment?”
“You think it’s about truth?”
“No. . .Yes; Well, I’m not certain. But you can’t see truth, so it’s not as if he could have, staring into the well. He’s brought our attention to that quite deliberately. It sticks out.”
“Yes. It’s almost as if Frost never had this experience at all, but that it’s a metaphor for another that he did have.”
“Or he had them both.”
“The reflection masks the water. That’s what he’s saying isn’t it?”
“Water isn’t the only thing that wears a mask. Who-”
“People. . . .people do.”
“Hm. He doesn’t mean a physical mask, though.”
“Oh, of course not, no.”
“I think he’s talking about ‘perceiving people’ in metaphor.”
“Among other things.”
“Yes, but mainly people.”
“Hmm. We do wear masks, don’t we? All of us. I guess that’s what life is about. Getting close enough to people you love, so eventually they get comfortable enough to-“
“-To take their mask off. If only just for you.”
“You were right. It’s not just about a well. It is about discovering truth.”
“The truth about people.”
“Truth that can be just as soon obscured as revealed.”
“The truth about me.”
Others taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs
Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
Deeper down in the well than where the water
Gives me back in a shining surface picture
Me myself in the summer heaven godlike
Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
Something more of the depths—and then I lost it.
Water came to rebuke the too clear water.
One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple
Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom,
Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.