This week’s poem traces the mystery surrounding a well in Senegal. Is there some magic or evil or other reason why two women have died there? The speaker, who is clearly an outsider to the culture of the area, leaves us to consider the answers, all of which depend on where we stand.

Richard Westley is currently editing a collection of his poems titled “Halo Effect.” His novel “B League Champs” appeared in 2006, and he currently teaches English at Scarborough High School and creative writing for the Virtual High School. He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal.

This column is accepting poem submissions during the month of August. For more information, please visit

The Magic Well of Louga

By Richard Westley


Within a span of three days, two women

have thrown themselves down that well.


The villagers think a curse hangs over its apron,

luring the unstable and infirm soul.


There is a movement to close the well and seal it

tightly to keep that evil djini in.


But the water is precious and the well

is clear, deep and good.


And there is a faction among the Peuhls

who say the magic of their cows is at work here.


These would have been the first faithful

at Fatima, at Lourdes.


They will secretly draw the charged water

and baptize their sores with it.


But when their sores persist, when

this baptism fails, when they


start to drink again forgetting the deaths,

then the well’s magic will die.


Tonight I stand beside that somber throat,

and hear the echo of a falling stone.


But there is no one drawing water,

none who could have dropped it.


A pregnant girl is tending sheep beneath

the baobab, flicking rocks.


Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is poet who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2017 Richard Westley. It appears here by permission of the author. Deep Water: Maine Poems will be accepting submissions during the month of August. For more information, visit

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