Poetry at Sangam



Looking Back by Nancy Naomi Carlson

That blessing of salt—
chlorine and sodium ions bound
like bodies in love.
A desert I held in my hands.
Once I sprinkled salt on a magpie’s tail
to keep it from flying, but fooled
by its mournful, mirrored, lake-lit self,
it gathered away on a current of wind,
song hurled against a hunter’s moon.
If you want a lover back, it’s said,
burn salt for seven days.
If it flares into flames, you’re doomed
to pick every grain out of hell when you die,
like Persephone, feeling the pull of spilled
and broken things, or Lot’s wife,
still unnamed,
                    from whose tears,
I believe—not the pillar—the Dead Sea arose,
Sodom and Gomorrah below,
so much salt a body floats away,
really no effort at all.