Lot's Wife


The mineral rose up in me; a wave of nausea and my eyes stung. I tried to hold the seeing steady, but what I saw kept dissolving and I surrendered to the cost. Others saw only a white pillar, but my salty eyes blurred back to the city, all sulphur and furnace. But seeing too, nations and more nations of stars swelling,

and the well, the tamarisk tree, footsteps of the sojourner who would offer his bound son, and there were sisters too who were wives, and birth rights stolen as blessings, and more wells, and children on camels, and pillars of stone covenants, and gates from heaven opening ladders of angels.

And I remembered yesterday, seeing through the window strange faces of the two angels at our gate; I thought they hated us, and Lot’s words to our neighbours caused blood to drain from my girls’ bright faces: mute horror at his offering. He was not a pillar of the community but he trusted sorely; I bled.

We fled today and my mind began to move in vague shadows, my feet lost direction, a dream came, my household Gods scattered; I looked because I heard music back at the well calling me, saw my own veil left there. Now nothing blossomed. I mothered nothing. My city’s shame uncovered, and I a fleck within a fleck of time.

Only when the others moved onwards, not looking back, did my head begin to clear. Dissolving clarifies the mind, but I burned deep for a love my city forfeited. My home was not my home. I saw then a woman offering water from a well to a man. And another man, obscurely in another time, another woman

and my veil uncovering her face, her salty skin, her alien eyes my eyes. He gives her the water that I am thirsty for – dissolving memory, dissolving time, dissolving too, that ancient well.