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.

4 thoughts on “Salt

  1. Hi Paul, I think we commented on a couple of each other’s pieces last year, nice to see you again! I like this (and I think it works better than the previous version which WordPress has helpfully suggested I read as well!). I prefer yellow grasses to winter grasses, and I think the mention of the man from Utah gives more of an understanding of her state of mind. I don’t quite understand the apparent subject change to salt in the second half – I’m guessing this is something to with saltiness of environment in Utah (Salt Lake City etc) which might be more obvious to US readers than to me as a Brit, but I really like it anyway. Gives an sense of that need for flavour and vitality from an outside source. Lovely writing.


    • Thank you so much for your detailed feedback! It’s quite kind and much appreciated!

      I like this version of the poem the best, too. I never really liked my earlier versions, but this version more or less satisfies me.


    • I was hoping you’d comment on it! It’s good to see you again. I keep going through dry spells when I can’t think of a thing that seems worth saying. It’s a strange feeling, the feeling that nothing is worth saying. But then I go through other periods when I can’t seem to shut up, so it all evens out, I suppose. How have you been doing?


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