Shirley Balance Blackwell


Desert dwellers know the keeping of a well,
its preservation through the generations,
the years that are for drawing and for drinking,
the seasons of replenishment and rest.

O my sister, you have hauled the jar of water
for many wayfarers, their flocks and herds;
you have poured the cup for thirsty travelers,
bade them to your fire, shared your bread.

But even a great lake can be made muddy
if all who need to drink crowd on its shores.
Let your neighbor, also, host the sojourner
and share the joy of giving without stint.

The Divine has given us a respite
to refresh our wellsprings and our souls.
The seventh year should not pass by unseen,
like a cutpurse in the stalls of the bazaar.

Let the cistern of your spirit be refilled
at the fountain of your heart’s Creator,
so that, come next year—or year beyond—
you will once again stand like a green oasis,

beckoning to those who cross the wastelands,
made ready for the weary who need rest.
We cannot nourish others from our dearth.
Tend your well, dear sister, tend your well.

Shirley Balance Blackwell, 64, of Los Lunas is retired from a career as analyst, technical writer and editor with the Federal Government. Along with her active life as a poet, she accompanies her fiddle-playing husband of 44 years on autoharp and bodhran, a traditional Irish drum, and served as camp cook at the National Old Time Fiddle Championship Contest in Weiser, Idaho. Her sign is Libra.