“Arise, take thy wife and thy two daughters that are here; lest thou be swept away in the iniquity of the city. Escape for thy life; look not behind thee,”
—Angels to Lot, Genesis: 19
“But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.”
. I was drowsing through Sunday school to Mrs. Schiff’s twang, dreaming that I fled the burning city in a long robe and sandals with a family and a few goats.
. That salt pillar jolted me from my snooze.
. Sammy Kane called Mrs. Schiff Old Vacuum Cleaner Nose. Sammy was truly bad. God would have turned him to salt whether he looked back or not.
. Through the classroom window, I watched one cow grazing on the far side of the parking lot. I was thinking Lot was an odd name.
. I was inhabiting the horror of becoming a salt pillar, white as a giant cigarette. Going from girl to salt. Not me anymore.
. And if an antelope were to lick me, I wouldn’t feel it..
. I thought how I loved the fullness of being me. And now I look back
to see that recognition, that love, was the lesson I took from the salt pillar tale.
and I scrapped the one that says, choose between blind obedience and obliteration.
We flee from our city like thieves. How can I help but look back to see it burning as if struck by lightning, the whole desert aglow with its heat, tumbleweed aflame, rolling towards us like a giant head on fire?
Why did I disobey, you ask? Why did I look back?
Why are those the questions? Why don’t I have a name?
Barbara Edelman is a writer and teacher living in Pittsburgh, PA. Her full-length poetry collections include All the Hanging Wrenches (2022) and Dream of the Gone-From City (2017), both from Carnegie Mellon University Press.
Beautiful thoughts Barbara. No matter what our age but to feel the experience,the excitement. To question the why’s. So strong, so powerful.
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Thanks, Sara Faye!
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