John F. McCullagh
Woman From The Well - Poem by John F. McCullagh
On Spring Street in SOHO I worked in a bar
The Manhattan Bistro, since closed down, I hear.
In its basement what remains of a well can be seen;
the scene of a murder that still haunts my dreams.
The Winter solstice was, once again, drawing near,
its night, cold and dreary, the longest of the year.
What brought me downstairs, I cannot now tell.
It was there that I saw her, the woman from the well.
Her long tresses hung down; limp, lifeless and dead,
and an old fashioned hair comb she wore on her head.
Her muslin dress was archaic, with bustle and lace.
She seemed lonely and listless, a sad look on her face.
In life she'd been lovely, a pert Twenty two.
Yes, Elma Sands, I'd heard all about you.
As I stood in stunned silence, another appeared.
A malevolent Specter of a man passed me near.
He throttled the girl till, unconscious, she fell.
He tossed her, still living, down the depths of the well.
Then like vapors they vanished- to Heaven or Hell?
Someone called from the Bar and it shattered the spell.
Few heard her pleas on the night that she died.
When she first was discovered it was thought suicide.
Rumors spread quickly back in Old Dutch New York.
Surely that girl was murdered, such was the talk.
No doubt killed by a Lover who wanted no Bride.
Levi Weeks was arrested. The charge- Homicide.
Rumors were spread that he'd promised they'd wed,
That they planned to elope- but he'd killed her instead.
The Lawyers he hired were both men of renown;
Hamilton and Burr were both heroes in town.
The mob wanted blood; they screamed Levi's name.
The jury declined to convict, just the same.
The facts of the murder may never be known.
What man followed Elma, and found her alone,
In a meadow deserted on the outskirts of town?
What man took her life, which was not his to take,
when she bravely refused to consent to her rape?
In the heart of our city, her ghost finds no peace;
Two centuries later and still no release.
Venture down to the cellar on Spring Street if you dare;
On the Solstice her ghost will appear to you there
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