I’m always thinking about Lot’s wife,
wonder what her neighbors thought
when she packed up her tunics and cooking pots
and left town without so much as a fare thee well.
Dave, the guy I work with says, “It’s because
she was a sinful woman in a sinful town.
You know where the word sodomy comes from.”
I tell him, “Sodomy’s been made legal in Texas.
I read it in the paper yesterday.”
Dave has been known to get down on his knees
and pray before a computer, but it never seems
to work because it’s always messed up.
“You see, Dave, if she’d had a name, maybe someone
could have called to her, maybe she might
not have turned back.” I’m obsessed with this,
it’s true, but I can’t get the no-name-pillar-of-salt thing
out of my head, and this woman
who probably left with wash on the line
and goat stew simmering on the fire.
And, then there are those two daughters,
who later lay with their father, there being no
other men worth their salt in that mountain town
where they ended up. “Good thing she wasn’t around
to see that kind of sodomy,” I say. “Women
need guidance. Remember Eve?”
I tell him, “Let’s agree to disagree on this.”
He glares at me; his face turns red; pimples
stand out like, like angry mountains, I think.
“Beside, Dave, Lot lingered—he lingered,
and God took mercy on him. I want
mercy for her. And a name, Dave,
a name for God’s sake. Please call her
something besides ‘Lot’s wife’.”
Dave takes my hand, says, “Kneel with me
and let’s pray for you, my disagreeable friend,
and for all those sick people in Texas.”
Meanwhile, the computer flashes:
this program has performed an illegal operation.
“How about Loretta?” I ask, thinking of my best friend
from high school. I shuck off his hand and add,
“It’s a good name, and Mary’s been used.”
—from Rattle #21, Summer 2004
Karla Huston: “Reading poetry is like a walk in a prairie: Black-eyed Susans bobble in a sea of green, Queen Anne’s Lace doilies float above the leather tongues of burdock. There is a surprise in every turn of word, and in every phrase and line, something new grows.” (web)