For Once, Then, Something
BY ROBERT FROST
Others taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs
Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
Deeper down in the well than where the water
Gives me back in a shining surface picture
Me myself in the summer heaven godlike
Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
Something more of the depths-and then I lost it.
Water came to rebuke the too clear water.
One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple
Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom,
Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.
It's easy to be distracted by our own reflection -- or reflections, as it were. When we look in a mirror or into the smooth surface of a well of clear water, we recognize that person looking back at us. We think we're done with that, we know that, we know ourself. Likewise, when we think of ourself and think back on our life -- or forward, for that matter -- we "know" who we are. We know what to expect, right? We know who we are, right? We know what we'd do in any given situation, right?
But look longer. Closer. Harder. What do you discern beyond the picture? What is in the depths? What could be different? What could happen? Look deeply, closely at the whiteness, the truth. The whiteness, the real purity of something visible and real and then, quickly, inadvertently obscured. What is that? For once, then, there is something. Something else. Truth? Something.
Keep looking at what you think you know is looking back at you. Look deeper, harder, longer, and you may glimpse the truth. For once. You'll glimpse something.