Kij Johnson

Lot's wife

Lot's wife remembers
the green gardens,
the smell of rain-wet leaves,
the girl who brought iced sherbet,
cold and slick as snow,
sweet on her tongue.

The desert is harsh and hot and dry.
Lot's wife remembers her soft bed
in a room in a tower,
thick with incense and veiled
to keep the flies away.

The flies in the desert bite.
They leave weeping sores.
The camels are fractious
and there are too few.
Not everyone escapes.

It was wise to flee
to turn one's back to the falling city,
the scorched gardens,
the breaking tower
and the white-skinned girl.

But the eyes of Lot's wife are wet.
She looks back
and tastes salt.

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© 2005 Kij Johnson