What Rough Beast | Poem for November 26, 2017

Susan Charkes
Lot’s Wife

Then the Lord caused to rain upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone
and fire from the Lord out of heaven.
—Genesis 19:24

1. an obsolete name for sulphur
2. a common yellow butterfly, Gonepteryx rhamni, of N temperate regions of the Old World
3. (archaic) a scolding nagging woman; virago/
virago late 14c., “man-like or heroic woman,” from L. virago, from vir “man” (see virile).
in the morning I baked them little cakes to take on the journey
tiny yellow cakes I strung together to tie around their necks, my beautiful daughters
and when the fire came from heaven they raised their faces to the sky and let the butterflies drink their tears
and when the earth turned over in its sleep they breathed in sulphur before it rose from below their feet and they fell
and falling they heard me as I called to them, my dawdlers, I called from across the plain, for I waited for them, I waited and I became the salt that the butterflies left behind, I became
the man he could have been

Susan Charkes is the author of a poetry chapbook, sp. (The Operating System, 2017). She lives and writes in southeastern Pennsylvania.

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