Emma Jackson-Smith

Great Salt Lake, 1847

Their hands were cracked like the salt flats
under their toes, when they put down their homes
from out their hands – no horses to draw their
carts, the women took the job, and pulled, and
Pulled – and he (we'll call him Samuel), four
years old, asked her, have we grown scales,
we look like turtles, when will we go back
         across the way, the sky, swelling with
Reds, itself pregnant, began to bid its servants
That they soon dig their hands into the earth,
Pluck out what bricks they can, make sacrifice
Of their limbs, and build something lovely,
So soon, someone will paint it, then another,
For fireplaces.
                                                               A command
which inspired the Father to tell his people,
This is the Place.
                              (and unlike with the other
thirty-four Places, because of the sky's ability to
form a quality backdrop, his sea of women
believed him this time)
                                             their tide was something
you couldn't swim through; she saw how
He stepped, the swagger that convinced their
fathers all of his Heavenly; how her voice
was silenced in the hope of all that Soul; and
her boy hadn't that swagger. They had
too many boys, not enough girls, so she knew
they had to shed some off, maintain imbalance.
She looked back down, and wished to tell her boy
of days foreseen, of hers alone in the otherwise
abandoned cabin, then of his loneliness.
Here they will wring women dry, replace them, have
excess men, so at twelve, after Samuel, his hands
unworn, can measure up to the peephole,
He will try to go back to his front door, and it
will not open.
                           He will cry to his mother's
New God, O, give me shelter in this salt, so dry,
They will not let me in.