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frog at the bottom of the well

Sandra Lin

CAS for Database

Fall Contest

Trenton, Florida, USA

Bell High School


—a promise in the form of a haibun

this was all there was: a circle of blue above, the sky round like sorrow under the moon. slick gray stones and spring moss running along cracks in the slimy arched walls. it means greatness, the cold spitting pins against my face, the bite of mosquitoes kissing my skin, and the sandy crunch of gnats between my teeth. once every autumn, the moon is full and bright enough to fill my dwelling, leaking droplets of light that illuminates the water beneath; the jade rabbit of chang'e in the hollows of the satellite whispers stories to the stars, tales of miles of milk blue skies and barren earth, tales of war, of love, of majestic kingdoms that rose and fell all within a day. i swallow the moon whole, spoon fairytales into my mouth and chew, wringing sweetness from craters like saccharine from taffy milk candy.

once, i dreamt of a boy in a wheelchair with brown eyes warm like thick caramel at the back of my throat. i knew how his kisses tasted: his mouth, warm and damp, sweet with sticky yellow peach juice. his rosy lips, an altar to my religion. this was what he taught me— that even at the bottom of a well, i could have a whole world that gravitates around my heartbeat and worships my every exhale. he gave me his half of the peach and i bit it and imagined kissing him, hungry mouth against cool flesh, razor teeth against warm pulse. his throat, a bite of apple held between my lips. i was someone starving mauling a docile thing, with mouth opened wide to the ears, both a prayer and a sin.

in this world, i wish for another life, another death. something precious to offer, like heart, like fruit, like legacy pressed between pages of yellowing books. webbed toes digging into stone, my hands scrabble at the slippery wall lined with moss, filth scraped and gathering under my fingernails, heavy as mountain dirt. claw marks on gray stone traces all my failures. i shake my anger at the sky and shoot the jade rabbit for strumming my desire to leave, kiss the boy in the wheelchair for letting me climb onto his shoulders and taste nectar on my tongue: the blood of the rabbit and peach juice on the boy's lips. in this world, i redefine the frog at the bottom of the well:

                                                                                          no well can hold the

                                                                          vigor from her hop; one day,

                                                                                       she'll see wider skies.


I feel deeply connected to the author’s writing, because like the speaker, I find myself in love with the moon, longing for escapism. In a sense, we are all frogs at the bottom of the well, hungry for wider skies. This haibun beautifully captures the ephemeral, almost superficial quality of the mortal earth while transcending boundaries to imagine everything that is beyond what we have ever known.

Sandra Lin (林诺晨) is a Chinese American born in Manhattan, New York who goes to Bell High School in Florida, but she is secretly still a New Yorker at heart. She has founded a creative writing club at school with her twin sister. Other than her passion for writing/reading, she is interested in pursuing a career in the medical, preferably in something that has to do with the mind. In her free time, she enjoys generating more WIPs than she can finish, watching C-dramas and shows, and panicking about the future. She can be found on Instagram @sandranuochen where she seldom posts but will definitely reply.


First Place

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