by Zofia Burr
Salt I say tasting your first tear and so you are
among the elements, of the elements creature
not my own my own wild where did you come from
where do you (here but yet not among us) come from
lithe tumult underfoot (lifting the whole)
throwing us over
what then will be safe keeping
Once there was a father who had three daughters. Three is the usual number. But sometimes there are more, and sometimes only one.
As the story goes, the father, -- who is sometimes a king, and always someone who has too much--, gives his girls a test. But ends up proving his own foolishness.
Usually his motive has something to do with dividing up the kingdom. But sometimes the test is just a whim. He asks because he can-- questions you should never really ask, like “How do you love me?” or “How much do you love me?” or “How dear am I to you?” Or he makes as if to test their smarts: “What is the sweetest thing in the world?” he asks. Or he makes what sounds like a reasonable request: “Bring me what is most necessary to human life,” “the most indispensable thing.”
But the girls are way ahead of him.
The first two answer the way he’s wanting them to, with love as much as their lives, their hearts, their eyes, with important expensive things. Only the third offers what amounts to him as nothing. “I love you as salt,” she says, or “I love you as much as water and salt,” or “I love you as fresh meat loves salt”; or she brings him “a pile of salt on a wooden plate,” “a litle pile of salt in a decorated container,” or she says you are “as dear as salt,” or that salt is “the sweetest thing in the world.”
Predictably, he reacts badly, and behaves very badly toward her (sending her from home, ordering her killed, that sort of thing).
But in the end, she makes her point. With a saltless meal she prepares in disguise, she makes him cry. And after she reveals herself and the moral of the story, they all live happily after--except, unfortunately, in Shakespeare’s version of the story, which is by definition a tragedy. But as for the rest of us, the story ends, “here we are with nothing.”
SALT : “A substance, known chemically as sodium chloride (NaCl), very abundant in nature both in solution and in crystalline form, and extensively prepared for use as a condiment, and a preservative. Taken. . .as a symbol of hospitality. to eat a person's salt: to enjoy her hospitality; also (occasionally) to be dependent upon her. The preservative qualities of salt made it a peculiarly fitting symbol of an enduring compact, and hence of fidelity. The word salt thus acquired connotations of high regard and honour. . . .Moreover, it was a sign of friendship and solidarity. . .”
Here is advice to children:
To catch a bird
cast salt on his tail.
A traffic of birds in the blue morning grey sky. as far sound comes close as you listen, where you enter you enter before light where nothing is. hidden. you enter. and listen.
at dawn the birds become silent. solid. as sound you could touch them
and you will as the light that passes through to all it bends to touch.
In the beginning, they say, the baby is willing to move with the movements of her mother as a dancer cued to the step. But who is leading and who is following is the question that becomes love of that confusion. Mine, the body you passed through to the pleasure of seeking and finding. within your reach to grasp the things you seek.
that becomes love
(samsara: literally, “the running around”)
you dream to the sound of water through a fountain near us. we’re cycled along caught on as fine spokes of water rise and circle the air to return as patter, our pattern. to fountain. to river the air. around. to circle unwinding as water. unspun as the air. When you wake you will put your feet in it. salt. in time.
Hear your voice before words full-throated. lips curl around sound. They name this: to coo. of a far place. from song before song. not where I remember I’ve been to before, but I’m called. and caught.
REPOSITORY “1.A vessel, receptacle, chamber, etc., in which things are or may be placed, deposited, or stored. 2. A place where souls are lodged. Obscure. 3. A place or thing within which something immaterial is thought of as deposited or contained. 4. A part or place in which something is accumulated or exists in quantities. 5. A person to whom some matter is entrusted or confided.”
This is the world outside the world
I’ll hold myself
awake now where a cry sounds in what was mine but is now the mother
body. and as I listen is like no body I’ve lived in no book I’ve read.
baby. hears my I want you now cry.
and none other.
This is the world outside the world
I’ll hold myself and you
till I find my other life again then. such as it will be.
when this time is gone
but not gone like time before with you in it.
Bound in a tight circle by how far I can stretch.
with your eyes open on me. learning to reach.
some moments you realize how much has gone on after someone has gone that she’s not part of or party to, and yet you hear how she’d say what she’d say like she were here or on the phone or in the next room just on the other side of the door. you say what she’d say. in a Voice that was part of the always. among the threads you’re spun.
She was I am the repository
of that abundant offering I am
offering you too much of
to hold like water
holds salt we’re buoyed along on
the weight of
as if above
yet within the repository
of such a one as you
on as salt it’s said to keep
and means keeping
the bitter to remember
open the space for that sacred nothing
but no one holds
PILLAR: “A detached vertical structure of stone, brick, wood, metal, or other solid material, slender or narrow in proportion to its height, and of any shape in section, used either as a vertical support of some superstructure, as a stable point of attachment for something heavy and oscillatory, or standing alone as a conspicuous monument or ornament; also, a natural pillar]shaped stone, etc.”
“The bones may be compared to a pillar supporting a building.”
“In order to grasp what she was like at that time,
you must first remember a place in yourself
where pillars do their work: where you can sense
stairways; where precarious arches
span the abyss of a space
which only remained in you because it was built up
from blocks that you can no longer lift
out of yourself without toppling.”
(from “The Presentation of Mary in the Temple,” Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Franz Wright)
“The production of salt by the evaporation of seawater or brine is perhaps the least complicated mineral]extraction process, and it is practiced wherever possible. In its most basic form, all that is required is a source of salt water, a low ambient humidity, and a reasonable supply of sunlight to evaporate the water.”
She speaks with salt
Hold the fort.
Don’t let anybody steal you.
You’re in charge of the animals.
You’re in charge of the dishes.
Take a purse.
Take a sweater.
Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.
Don’t let anybody steal you.
Don’t let anything happen to you, it would ruin my birthday.
Try not to do anything stupid.
Try not to do anything that will get me in trouble.
Call when you get there.
Lock the door.
(Open that door!)
I wish you’d tell us what’s going on.
Who do you tell your secrets?
Don’t tell your father.
Don’t make a big deal about it.
Don’t tell your wish
or it won’t come true.
Stay where I can see you.
Don’t go out too deep.
Stay where I can keep my eyes on you.
Don’t forget to come up for air.
Don’t talk back.
Don’t talk fresh.
Don’t upset your father.
Don’t give me that tone of voice.
Let’s start at the edge and climb back
since that is where we are (hanging)
by a thread
so honor the salt. as a sound for what is
Saved. Savor. for song on the spoon. Soon. not solo
salt shared. spare. but there.
then honor the salt in a bite gone
not long on the tongue not last
But because it is everywhere it would seem to mean nothing
Here was the sea is the evidence
left as salt
sea]salt (marine]salt, bay]salt), rock]salt (mineral salt, salt mineral), and rock]salt strata. salt of the earth, common salt, salt in large crystals or lumps. small salt: salt powdered, with a grain of salt, Salt upon salt.
In salt: sprinkled with salt or immersed in brine; in pickle.
If the salt thou chance to spill, Token sure of coming ill.
salt above (salt-below, salt-beneath, salt under), salt]backet, salt-barrow, salt-bed, salt-boat, salt-brig, salt-cellar, salt-coffer, salt-crystal, salt-gauge, salt-girnel, salt-market, salt-room, salt-shop, salt-shovel, salt]spoon (hence ]spoonful), salt-spring, salt-trough, salt-vase, salts]bottle.
Also, ethereal salt, an ester. ( to be) worth one's salt:.
Salt the body, salt in one’s wounds, salt]laden, salt]loving, salt-money, salt]white, salt]worker; salt]bright, salt]caked, salt]eaten, salt]licked, salt]strewn, salt]worn.
to rub salt in one's wounds
Love as Salt
Because it is everywhere
it would seem
to mean nothing,
mistaken as it was
when the last daughter offered
love as salt to the old man:
“And I turned her from my door,
for I thought she didn’t love me.
And now I see she loved me
best of all and may be dead.”
He said, not too late in that story
for all to live beyond the tasteless
meal. But in that other: “Nothing, my lord.”
Nothing was the end.
But Lot’s wife behind him looked back, and she became a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26.14).
“The woman watched the surface frozen. When they saw her from a distance on the beach they thought she looked more like a statue than a woman. They came, bringing hooks and ropes and lines and motors. They saw her standing with her back turned toward the bluffs, more like a pillar than a woman. More like a stalagmite, crystalized in air. A white pillar. Salt.” (from “Pleasure,” by Marianne Wiggins)
“Some claimed that a shower of sulphur came down upon her, and that the word which has been translated ‘salt’ could possibly be translated ‘sulphur.’ Others hinted that the salt by its antiseptic qualities preserved her body as a mummy. De Saulcy...thought that a piece of rock salt fell upon her, and very recently Principal Dawson has ventured the explanation that a flood of salt mud coming from a volcano encrusted her.”
Pillar of Salt
I would look back
no warning would stop me
though the cost were all
that might be
what had been would be / all
of / in my sight my longing
would be to look back
to the moment over that was once
mine that was
in it I would linger
though the gesture bound me
blind as stone to the place I turned
and turned salt among stone