I cut out five
People’s hearts
To find who
I thought was me.
Salt woman, I uprooted
While the family house fell,
Yet the walls still stood.
One of the hearts
Was mine, listening.

Its right ear pressed
To the floor, the other to the sky.
The colonel couldn’t have them anymore.
When I fucked myself over,
I was my own colonel.

Now I build the house
I loved and left, over and over
In my mind. Its bathroom
Made of slate and free light.
He who loves me now,
Who heals my grief, builds it again
For my feet. I shower there.

To construct peace, to make
Love, to reconcile/ to reach
The limits of ourselves/ to let go
The means, to wake.

When I wash off the mask, the one
In which I am swimming Kate
Or Virginia heavy with rocks,
His eyes are so soft
On me I can’t blink or turn back.

The voice inside
The mask said his smile
Has baobab roots. That is when
I knew I was worth my salt.

Salt in the seams
Of my dirty laundry.
I danced it for him.
He danced his for me.
We were beautiful.
We washed and folded
What wasn’t us.
Tucked it into magic
Drawers. Our eyes—
Always naked,
Four open doors.

No words walk
The path between them.
How is it this space
Is the house of every god?

with thanks to Julie Cummings for
helping me build an eight-room poem,
Carolyn Forché for the colonel
and Muriel Rukeyser for the fourth room

6 Responses to “Salt”

  1. Alan Wartes says:

    Rachel, I love this poem, and many others I read on your site. You and I met once at an Art Goodtimes reading at Westside Books in Denver–just a brief hello. I liked your reading then and I’m glad to have found this source.

    I’ve put a link on my own page, Words in the Wind (

    Hope to cross paths again sometime. Alan

    • wordweed says:

      Thanks Alan,
      Great to connect again! Thanks for the link to your stuff; I feel a kinship with it and will be returning regularly. I hope you don’t mind if I link to your site from here.

      Let me know if you have any readings coming up. Would love to hear your poems aloud.

  2. Fey says:

    I love this double play on. Worth my salt.
    And rebuilding your house of self

  3. eduardo says:

    “Undressed,/We washed and folded/What wasn’t us.” Whoa, powerfully sublime.

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