Women weep across the pages of the Old Testament;
tear drops smear letters like kohl lines their eyes.
Cries for barren wombs, ungrateful sons, daughters
sold to hard-hearted men, stolen infants, tented days
of uncleanliness, dead-ends, still-births, prostitution,
sacrifices gone out of control.
Thousands of years
pass and today women’s tears still stain open Bibles,
the saltiness blurring words and promises of red-letter
text. Addictions to pills, alcohol, depression, affairs,
empty stomachs, young girls yearning to grow up
too soon, rebellious children, difficult in-laws, broken
vows echo those still-same sobs of our foremothers.
We live now as sisters in spirit, love, and grace.
[Queen of Sheba]
Keep the spice rack full.
In the kitchen, the aroma quivers,
the mood shivers: sweet on Saturdays,
bitter on Wednesdays, curried Fridays.
An assault on the senses in four
bottled shelves. The rack sags,
bows. With a crack, it quakes:
cayenne, cumin, paprika, mustard
seed, onion seed, garlic, nutmeg
cinnamon, clove, oregano —
the spice-cloud hovers, thick, salty
coating every surface, like ash,
with a fine dusting of flavor.
She cooks with salt
harvested from the Dead Sea
by slaves’ calloused, brittle hands,
raining it over beef and lamb,
fingers cold as they press
each grain into sinuous muscle.
Year after year she seasons with
salt alone — sprinkled on meat,
on bread, on parsley, on each edible,
on every plate. Salt tastes in
her family’s communal meals,
to friends visiting, to strangers
entertained. As though salt fills
her own pores, cracking her
knuckles under the sting of
well water, she wrinkles and bends,
her own tears as dense as seawater.
Salt is part of her.