The Woman at the Well – A Poem by Kristen Sykes


My man lay resting in the shade
His arm over his eyes was laid
His garment stained with dust and sweat
A half-day’s work remaining yet.

I cleared away our midday meal
Grateful I still held appeal
For him to daily bring his pay
Providing me a place to stay.

He stretched and yawned and called my name
Bringing his tools to him I came
The skin of water put on his shoulder
Did he notice I looked older?

In water smooth or shining pan
I’d glimpse my face of darkened tan
Always shocked the change to see
In the girl who’d once been me.

I smiled brightly, laughed and kissed
Told him how he would be missed
Til his return at setting sun
His work over, my chores done.

As he set out, I took his place
Under the tree to rest a space
My thoughts awakened to review
The past years, what picture drew.

The hope of youth had once been mine
Desire to marry in my prime
Have children, make a cozy home
Never fear to live alone.

My first husband was not young
Yet my heart to him had clung
He seemed mature, so solid, safe
I felt secure, no homeless waif.

He chose me for he wanted sons
I had years to birth him tons
Excitement marked those early years
As every month we hoped to cheer.

But passing time gave way to fears
His disappointment prompting tears
Until one day he said he quit
And gave me a divorcement writ.

He sought offspring for his name
Through me or another—to him the same
I saw my love had mattered not
In great pain, despair I fought.

After pain my heart went numb
I married the first man who’d come
To check out the young divorcée
I saw him as the only way.

Yet once again I could not conceive
And childlessness our bond did thieve
My wounded heart not rising above
To offer him surpassing love.

And so in time he too walked out
How had my life taken such a route?
Somehow I managed to keep me
Until along came number three.

Turbulence marked our daily life
One day happy, the next of strife
Then one night he said he’d go
I said to him the door I’d show.

Alone again with dignity fading
Still my beauty worth parading
I found someone else for the fourth
Til beer and wine ran its course.

The bottle drowned whatever we had
When we split, I was not sad
But carried on in middle age
Conforming quickly to this stage.

My fifth husband had a quick tongue
Retorts we exchanged as if in fun
But unkindness masked in hilarity
Whittled away any charity.

So when the sixth man came along
I had no need of right or wrong
For now, together we belong
Who knows whether our bond be strong.

At my history heavily I sighed
Thinking at least it had humbled my pride
On this worn woman have mercy, Lord
As my poor prayers go heavenward.

The lengthening shadows caught my eye
I rose stiffly, kinks to untie
My evening duties calling me
Which one my first priority.

Empty stood my water jar
The well in Sychar was not far
I dragged my bedraggled self
To lift my jar from off the shelf.

Our father Jacob dug the well
Gave ground to Joseph there to dwell
Approaching I saw in sun’s low glare
A man like Joseph sitting there.

He appeared travel weary like me
His face as if in reverie
Before I knew just what to think
He asked, ”Will you give me a drink?”

Amazed I answered, “You are a Jew—
With Samaritans have they nothing to do.”
“If you knew two things,” He said,
“You would have asked of Me instead;

The gift of God and Who I am—
Pours Living Water to the brim.”
Great ease had I with Him to speak:
I told Him that the well was deep,

Naught had He with which to draw,
And did He surpass father Jacob in awe?
This Living Water obtained from where?
(I spoke so freely, how did I dare?)

He replied, “Drink here and thirst again;
The water I give within remains
To well up in eternal springs
Everlasting life to the soul it brings.”

“O Sir,” I exclaimed, “this water give me,
My thirst returns repeatedly.”
“Go, call your husband,” next He said.
Yet of the answer I had no dread.

“I have no husband,” I stated plain.
“You have spoken truth,” was His refrain.
“In fact of husbands you’ve had five
Unwed in the relationship now alive.”

I put down the clay pot I carried
This holy man knew I was not married
Though he had knowledge of my world
No harsh judgments at me were hurled.

The stunned silence to relieve
I told Him a prophet I perceived,
For worship suddenly I cared
Where should we worship, here or there?

How, not where, was His main thought
Salvation is from the Jews He taught
In spirit and truth is worship true
Such worship the Father seeks from you.

I said I know that Christ shall come
And explain all things to everyone.
Then He spoke living words to me
Saying, “I Who speak to you am He.”

At once I knew it was not chance
It was my turn in God’s great dance
At the well He was waiting for me
Before He traveled on to Galilee.

When we met we had both been tired
Now Jesus and I were both inspired
My spirit full I ran to town
Gave testimony all around.

From what I told many believed
The Savior of the world received
Two days He stayed and preached His word
My man among the ones who heard.

My man among the ones He saved
Our lives with Living Water laved
Precious hours at Messiah’s feet
To John the disciple my tale repeat.

Can you believe what God had in store!
My story written in John’s chapter four
A worn out nameless woman like me
Gathering a harvest for eternity.

No matter your life, He waits for you
To bless and anoint for your town too
Come to the well, His Living Water taste
Your brokenness redeemed by His amazing grace.

by Kristen Sykes

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