He steps out onto the dry, white lakebed.
ears the crunch of crystals underfoot.
Tries not to imagine whiteness creeping
over rubber and dusting leather on its
journey to his ankle. He keeps his feet
moving all the same. He understands the science:
the shallow root systems of introduced plants,
the water that rises from deep underground,
bringing with it things that are best kept buried.
He invokes the mantra of electron transfer,
of ionic bonds that form when water evaporates.
Magnesium sulfate. Calcium sulfate. Sodium chloride.
He knows the physics and the chemistry of it all,
but when he bends down one one knee and takes
a pinch between his thumb and fingers, feels the
grains’ sharp edges intent on piercing skin,
he knows it isn’t salt he’s standing on.
It’s the powdered glass they put into the flour.
This week’s poem was originally published in Overland #199 and was inspired by an interview with John Kinsella that touched on the issue of salinity. For more of my poems, head to the Books or Other poems and stories sections of this site.
Come back next week for another poem. And to find out what I’m working on and where you can read my latest writings, sign up for Adam’s Occasional Poetry News.