You can’t tell some people anything,
Especially the curious, stubborn, wise.
All she had to do was walk away, one step
After another. Not much to ask.
But she was a mother, used to keeping
An eye on things, keeping house,
Keeping her husband happy at home.
So, she had to take one last look back.
That was all it took to turn
That handsome, firm-breasted frontier woman
Into a lump of salt. Salt is,
All would agree, a good thing,
Preserves meat, kills weeds, heals wounds,
Makes the womb a safe place for life.
But, as aching Lot would quickly learn,
It’s hard to love a lump of salt.

Lot’s Wife. The bus slows down,
Hisses to a halt, and the pilgrims rise
To peer through the oily, dusted windows,
Making the Mercedes suspension sigh.
Which in that huddle of accordioned hoodoos
Is she? “Over there!” a Missouri teacher
Declares, pointing to a heap of sandstone
Shapely as a crumbling bale of hay.
All wonder. Looking at his wristwatch,
The Israeli guide suggests that all
Resume their seats. All comply.
The bus lugs into gear, lurches forward,
Headed for a better site,
The beautiful hills of Galilee,
And every soul on board looks back.

Troy Reeves is emeritus professor of English at Angelo State University, a campus of Texas Tech. His poems have appeared in Christian Century, Kansas Quarterly and elsewhere.

Recently in Poem