Lot’s Wife

by Kent Leatham —

 “Just because you’ve had enough
            doesn’t mean you wanted too much”
                        (Dean Young)

The myth that an owl can turn its head completely around
is, like many others, true; just because you grow up knowing
something doesn’t guarantee one day you’ll turn to find it’s
gone, or worse. There are angels among us. They smell of camphor.
They are good with explosives, and their lips are full enough
for even the smallest uncircumcised cock. The fact that an owl
can look behind it without moving its body grants it access to
information most animals are not allowed. The body is made
of between .15 and .2 percent sodium. Excess salt in the blood
leads to hardening, thickening, sluggishness, stroke. Camphor-
sulfonic acid is used in the form of a salt as a stimulant for
heart failure and shock. When he felt her hand growing hard,
he tightened his grip but did not stop running. When he could
no longer drag her, he let the hand go.


When he could no longer drag her, he let the hand go.
Wir haben, wo wir lieben, ja nur dies. The practice of salting
roadways in winter continues to have the unexpected effect
of increased collisions with wildlife drawn to the salt.
Impulse. Instinct. The desire to look. The genitals of fetuses
are, like angels, initially ambiguous: the pushpin stump
of the clitoro-phallus, the just-parted lips of the scroto-labia.
Hyponatremia, the deficiency of sodium in the blood,
can lead in athletes to muscle cramps. He ran and he ran.
Historically, salt licks were used to hunt game: the slaughter
of many for the preservation of few. In fire, the wings
of angels retract. A week later, after the smoke had cleared,
he followed the tracks back through the sand, but when
he finally found her, the features were gone.


When he finally found her, the features were gone.
Lacuna. Laconic. In 1960, the residents of northern Japan
consumed 10,300 milligrams of salt per day, whereas
in the Amazon, the Yanomami consumed less than 200.
But this is not a history of salt. The myth says Orpheus
was punished for looking back. The myth says the punishment
was that Eurydice died twice. Leaving town, the angels
shake ash from their feet. The practice of salting flesh
is called curing, but many prefer the flavor of smoke.
A hallucinatory smell of burning has occasionally been known
to presage a stroke. In hindsight, she must have had
a name. In hindsight, the angels looked just like us.
What she knew was privileged. She lay like an owl
with its head twisted completely around.

Kent LeathamKent Leatham’s poems and translations have appeared in dozens of journals, including PloughsharesPrairie SchoonerFenceSoftblowAble Muse, and Poetry Quarterly. He received an MFA from Emerson College and a BA from Pacific Lutheran University, served as an associate poetry editor for Black Lawrence Press, and currently teaches creative writing at California State University Monterey Bay.