Sunday, January 11, 2015

Month of Poetry #11: Salt

Yesterday's poem was an Abcedarian, and I posted it to the closed MoP blog. It was the fourth of my Maligned or Minimised Women of the Bible poems - I've now written about Vashti, the Persian Queen replaced by Esther; the unnamed wife of Jeroboam; Cozbi the Midianite princess; and, yesterday, Aholibamah, one of the wives of Esau.

Today I've tried a kyrielle. A kyrielle is a poetic form written in rhyming couplets or quatrains. It may use the phrase "Lord, have mercy", or a variant on it, as a refrain as the second line of the couplet or last line of the quatrain. Each line within the poem consists of only eight syllables. The rhyme pattern in the quatrain form (my chosen variant) is usually A-A B-B, so that's what I've stuck to.

Today's subject is a fairly well-known (and fairly symbolically important) Biblical woman - the wife of Lot, who looked back towards Sodom and was turned into a pillar of salt. The exegesis varies on why - she disobeyed the angels' command, yes, but was her transformation a punishment or just an inevitable consequence of seeing the destruction being rained on Sodom? Was she yearning back towards the evil they had been told to flee, or looking back in anxious concerns for those left behind?

Those who enjoy aliens-have-visited-the-earth conspiracies have posited that Sodom was destroyed by some kind of alien nuclear device and Lot's wife was smashed into pieces by being too close to ground zero. Creative as I find this storifying, it's not the explanation I've favoured in my kyrielle.


Fleeing from the smell of burning
Forward, forward, never turning
My heart is drawn to turn, to see -
Oh Lord, be merciful to me.

The city lies behind my head
I heard well what the angel said
Keep your eyes front if you'd be free -
Oh Lord, be merciful to me.

The market square alive with spice
The quiet lanes, the secret vice
My garden with its olive tree -
Oh Lord, be merciful to me.

Stopping, now, I cannot stop
I need to see the bitter crop
Slowly turning, oh Lord, oh thee -
Oh Lord, be merciful to me.

- Kathy, 11/1/15

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