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Lot's Wife

a poem by Carol O'Connor

A contribution from Australian poet Carol O'Connor. She writes:

"The Old Testament is full of imagination. I've been thinking about the telescopic perspective of Genesis alongside the small, particular details that are dropped inside it. Also, its moral ambiguity, its humanity and it's overlapping of texts— but witness of a God who is there for the lost, the underdog. I've been doing some Genesis study and thinking about dear Lot's wife, so a poem:"

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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.
— Carol O'Connor / April 19, 2018

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Prints, above and below: details from "The Akedah" etchings by Bernard Greenwald (New York)

Flowers from the Arizona desert - photo by Catherine Schieve

Digital photo overlay "Salt" by Catherine Schieve


-- Guest contributor Carol O'Connor, with Catherine Schieve, editor.