Dorianne Laux’s award winning books, Facts about the Moon and The Book of Men, are available from W.W. Norton. Her poems have been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, Korean, Romanian, Dutch, Afrikkans and Brazilian Portuguese. Her New and Selected, Only As The Day Is Long is forthcoming in January 2019 from W.W. Norton. She teaches poetry at North Carolina State University and is founding faculty at Pacific University’s Low Residency MFA Program.
Please visit: doriannelaux.net
Since the beginning, salt.
Seawater we climbed out of, what
would later fall from our eyes
when we saw the yellow bells
of Datura, confusion of moonflowers
slung over our shoulders
as we roamed the new earth.
The beaten roads to the mines
we pulled it from in wooden carts,
crystalline in sun, shipped
on the flanks of barges across
the blue Mediterranean, the answer
to preserving food, tanning hides,
bleaching pulp, 14,000 uses
for the fine grains we pinch
into the pot, how much, how little
depends on the tongue, jewels
of salt sewn into the hems
of winter coats, strewn
on icy streets. The Salton Sea
stretching through the Imperial Valley,
the nothing of the Colorado Desert.
Table salt, rock salt, kosher salt,
Himalayan Pink, Celtic Sea,
Fleur de sel hand-harvested
from the tidal pools of France.
Flake salt, black and red Hawaiian salt,
smoked salt, pickling salt,
the potato chip and the lowly pretzel,
bread crust, cold cuts, nuts, the beads
of sweat we lick from our upper lip,
rub between our damp, nervous
palms, and in the end poured in rings
around the dead to keep
insects from feasting on our flesh.
All poems on this post: © Dorianne Laux
Published with the permission of Dorianne Laux