Paula would kiss,
Her parted lips soft as the rustle of yellow grasses.
In a high meadow on Grays mountain
(Summer stars exploding in a moonless night)
When I couldn’t tell where I ended and she began
She whispered she felt complete.
Then for a while she loved a man in Utah I never met,
But she phoned to say he had turned her lonely —
So like her to understate it.
I think now for all Paula was,
She couldn’t find where the wind
Eddies among the rocks in winter, and she was exposed.
Inside her were enormous bands stretched across starlight
And hung on the cries of eagles
That brittled and snapped in all her loneliness,
Though in the end she got religion
For its promise of undying love.
Was that when she knew
She would not be coming back?
At Andersonville, the Union soldiers
Died for lack of salt
Which could not be dug from the red clay of their prison,
Nor provided by their captors.
Some in anguish
Tore the word “salt” from their Bibles
And ate the word,
Though the word was not salt.