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Jill, Afterwards
Philip Dacey

He had this idea about the hill,
How at the top there would be water
Sweeter than any in any pail
Lugged previously, and to come down
Would be the easiest part of all.
I told him it was a kids' story.

Before I had knockers that story
Was making the rounds in my gang. Hell,
We laughed at it even then. We all
Knew better than to think sweet water
Could be had for the price of a pail
And a little legwork up and down

A hill that had been standing there, dawn
To dreary dawn, our whole life's story
Long. Not to mention the probabil-
ity such a thing as sweet water,
Hill or no hill, didn't exist. I'll
Give him credit for this, though: a wall

Couldn't have been more stubborn. He'd call
Me late at night even, to break down
My resistance. Okay, I said, I'll
Go. The truth is, he was cute. Starry-
eyed but cute. And I wondered whether
He had anything in his pants. Pale

Dawn found us taking turns with the pail
As we rose above the town. Not all
The money down there beats the water
We'll find, he said. Now I was poor, down
To a few bucks. It's no mystery
Money talks. Loud. But I climbed the hill.

To the top. And there was this big hole.
And deep. I got dizzy to look down
It. He had rope and let the pail fall
Yards and yards. 'Got something, he yelled, pull-
ing the catch in. Later the story
He told, back in town, was the water

Spilled out. But the fact of the matter
Is I saw what he had. Nothing. Damn
If he didn't claim different, though. Al-
ways. Damn, too, if his pants weren't full.
I've got these kids to prove that story.
When they whine, I tell them: climb a hill.

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