What but poverty earned him your respect
that when our fates were turned he is called
to act as cruelly as I did then? Lot’s wife
turned back in shock, in pity perhaps,
and for this she was robbed of flesh and name.
Why plant in us the startle and curious glance
to countermand that very design with no mercy?
I was too drunk with life, its spangled thigh,
to listen to every cry. Some I did, and I assisted,
with no wish to see my generosity returned,
content to get back to my table, sumptuous,
infinite, and free. In nature when called to nature.
A single instance I did drop to a baser call
and like the lady of the plain am condemned
without a second thought. Worse, the very man
whose hope I had ignored must now enact eternally,
against himself, my split indifference lest he too
harden into salt, white and shimmering as a host.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.