Lot’s wife was a pillar of salt by day and a ball of fire by night.
–Anguished English calendar, 2009
In the kitchen, in the cabinet,
a glass cylinder of salt.
Grain upon grain,
in colonnade, shaken loose
with a wrist flick.
When God punished
Lot’s wife for the simple act
of sentiment, for wanting
one more look at her skyline,
a last glimpse of home,
she became salt, an element
the human body can’t do without.
But we never hear her
human story. We don’t know
what it was she couldn’t resist,
couldn’t forget, would risk
such wrath to see one last time.
Her ginger cat, memories
of the Ark still raw? A garden
poised to bloom, seeds lifted
from her late mother’s hand?
The bracelet given by a name
before Lot? Never given
a name, we know her only
as Lot’s wife, a pillar of salt.
In the thermal brines
near the Dead Sea, she adopts
her geologic watch: a female
form, head turning back,
as all women turn:
a straggling child, the missed
chance. Pillar of salt on the road
to Sodom: a wound rubbed
into salt. Grain dislodging grain
in the sulfurous wind, crystal listing
toward crystal. Atom chafing against
atom, flint striking flint, two sticks
smoldering. For the speechless,
tongues of fire: teeth-rattling fury
incendiary in the dark.