The Poet Licks Salt Off the Corners of Her Mouth
Phoebe Reeves
In the world of dietary trends, salt is that pop star who waxes
and wanes, unerringly finding its way back to the spotlight,
surviving the vilification of experts.
                                                            It always appeals,
satisfies the late night guilty
binges, that empty Doritos bag stuffed
under the couch.
                              You can buy Morton’s or store brand
or pink Himalayan in four grades from fine to chunky.
You can get Dead Sea salt, Mediterranean, or black salt
from Hawaiian beaches.
                                            Half the grocery store boasts
“low sodium” chicken broth and crackers and tomato soup.
The other half sells salty caramel pretzels, salted
organic dark chocolate, rye bread with giant
grains of white kosher salt speckling its surface,
touch-of-sea-salt everything.
                                                    I need it in my blood.
I crave the taste like a deer at a February salt lick.
Without it, all my colors go grey.
                                                        The world loses its savor.
But if I let myself revel too much in the pleasure, it
turns on me, mouth puckered and chapped
from the movie theatre popcorn, blood screaming an ocean
of over-pressured tears.
                                            The body’s own salt films over my skin
as I sweat for my garden all summer, leaving a pheromone
trail down my back, a tiny salt deposit I will wash away
when it itches.
                          Sometimes the tears I refuse to cry run
uselessly down the back of my throat where they comfort
no one and flavor all my food with the tang of their invisible saline touch.
Phoebe Reeves earned her MFA at Sarah Lawrence College, and now teaches English at the University of Cincinnati’s Clermont College in rural southern Ohio, where she advises East Fork: An Online Journal of the Arts. Her chapbook The Lobes and Petals of the Inanimate was published by Pecan Grove Press in 2009. Her poems have recently appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Hayden’s Ferry ReviewDrunken Boat, failbetter, and Memorious.

more by Phoebe Reeves:
The Poet Wrestles with Kale
The Poet Longs for Summer Tomatoes