The Wells of Gerar

by Paul Hooker

Genesis 26:6-22
September 2015

They were my father’s wells, and though their names
are lost, I knew them once when I was young.
Come my turn to wander there, I found them
stopped and dry, as though never dug.

I dug other wells, not deep, but all my own.
What is a well? Is it just a hole
where water rises, and stretched skins descend?
Is it not a meeting of those above the soil

and those below, some who will thirst again
and some whose thirst has left on us a scar,
who seek from us naught but our remembrance?
Father! I remembered at Gerar!

But others there had memories of their own
some joyful, some oppressed with iron hand,
the bullet and the lash, the weeping eye,
the blood that moistens, baptizes the land.

These lives must matter, though they are not mine,
These thirsts be quenched, even if my throat is dry,
These truths be honored, even if contended;
These are family, at the edge of enmity.

But just beyond the range of human eye
if not beyond the yearning of the heart
is there not a broader place with room
for gathering all lives and thirsts and arts?

Shall we go and dwell there, our Rehoboth,
stand alongside those we lately fought,
and dig new wells and draw up hope and water
to wash away the blood and ease the drought?