Monday, May 23, 2016

#202: "Lot's Wife" by Lois Marie Harrod

~This poem was first published in Slant (2000).

Lot's Wife

Even the woman
who was never beautiful
is grateful when

after chemotherapy
her hair returns,
spiky little flames.

For a month or two
she spins,
French waif

catching herself
in the sun’s eye,
who was she?

So why do we blame
the salt woman
who wanted to see

not where she had been
but what?

Everything lies
in the season
we do not understand.

These are the pictures
of what we were,
lovelier than we imagined.

Even our children are amazed.



Perhaps because my father was a Lutheran pastor who read Bible stories and parables to our little family before breakfast and after dinner every day, I’ve been arguing with traditional myths and parables most of my life. Even as a child I thought the punishment to Lot’s wife was unjust. According to Genesis, the poor woman disobeyed God by turning around to see her home going up in flames and was immediately turned into a pillar of salt.  I began this poem after seeing a friend with cancer regrow their hair.  The poem started with that image, and then in walked Lot’s wife. How human, to think about the past. As a poet, I am often Lot’s wife, turning to see what happened, what made a noise behind me?  Orpheus seems to have made the same mistake.


Lois Marie Harrod’s 13th and 14th poetry collections, Fragments from the Biography of Nemesis (Cherry Grove Press) and the chapbook How Marlene Mae Longs for Truth (Dancing Girl Press) appeared in 2013. The Only Is won the 2012 Tennessee Chapbook Contest (Poems & Plays), and Brief Term, a collection of poems about teachers and teaching was published by Black Buzzard Press, 2011. Cosmogony won the 2010 Hazel Lipa Chapbook (Iowa State).  She is widely published in literary journals and online ezines from American Poetry Review to Zone 3. She teaches Creative Writing at The College of New Jersey. Read her work on

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