photo by N.Klapetzky, edited by the author
there is salt, and there is salt.
what’s the difference,
my father asked me at dinner
the other day, between
sea salt and plain ol’
en-ay-see-el? and i said
sea salt is less strict, dad,
but i don’t know if that’s right;
don’t know its bio-
chemical makeup, how late
it lets its daughters
out at night. chemicals aren’t
all latch-key and angle, you know.
for instance, there are some in the brain
more sensitive to love
than to cocaine. i’ve heard this;
that, chemically, love is the most terrible
addiction. crazy women need brave lovers,
the poet said; this i know also
to be true; i’ve seen crazy.
but i don’t know their chemistry, either:
not love or crazy. my professor
used to wear unmatched socks;
he taught the dissociation of salts.
his eyes were the color of sea glass.
he told my father once i
was the most impressive he’d ever had.
i could have loved him, then,
but i was addicted to my own heart-
beat. that rhythm is less biochemical
than electrical: a crazy drummer in my head
banging out signals to my chest.
i hope he is brave.
too much salt can fuck
it all up, cause heart-
ache. like breathing in sea glass.
how long can you hold your
breath underwater? my cousin
and i used to swim in the lake
by my grandparents’ house,
catch turtles on cane poles
with bits of old bread.
the biggest one we dragged up
onto the shore, and my father
sliced her neck while
her jaws were clamped
onto the back handle of an old broom.
that was before i knew chemistry.
or love. or that guilt could be as addictive
as cocaine. i’m not sure if this
is true, but i have seen crazy.
turtles, the poet said, turtles
all the way down.