Poem by Tani Arness
Genesis Ch. 19; Luke 17:32
In the Bible, Lot’s wife is never named, though in some Hebrew traditions she is called Ado or Edith.
I needed to know the salt of myself.
I wanted clarity. I needed to know
why my husband was so quick
to give his daughters away —
to brag, soured sick with wine,
and tell men how creamy his daughters’ thighs —
I turned back to take another look at my life,
at myself, another woman, soft in my skin.
At dusk, I gathered the honey:
the bees gently brushing against my arms,
humming me a sweet song.
Still godlike-men came promising fire from heaven,
and so we ran.
I could not believe, then,
that events were unfolding as they should,
that all things would work together for good.
I am a woman, keeper of memory.
I wanted to know what happened to the children
who were playing just that morning outside my gate.
The little girl with chestnut eyes
had called loudly to me, waving me over to see
the grasshopper she’d scooped from the wildflowers.
I wanted to understand.
I wanted to ask my husband,
a man scared easily, by wind,
my husband, who believed nothing his fault:
Couldn’t you have held my hand as we rushed away from the burning city?
Couldn’t you have looked back to try and save me
as I disappeared from your grasp?
Was it so simple to let go,
eyes trained forward, ears pricked to the damnations of gods?
That is what dissolved me —
Not the burning sulfur,
not the looking back,
but the inability to see anything better in front of me.
I am the keeper of forgotten things.
I remember singing lullabies to the trees.
I had to turn
to discover the salt of this thing called living.
I had to turn and face his God and ask Him, “Can’t you see the good things?”
I am a woman who lived in a city sinning
and still sang down little bits of sweetness from the sky,
a woman who could not run from flames
without first gathering a handful of ash to remember us by.