Salt fermentation (a poem)

You always crave sweetness when it’s salt you need:
the warm salt of tears,
the sour tang of sweat,
the shock of immersion
in a cool saline ocean
soothing your heat.

But sometimes you’re drowned in salt sorrows,
your patience tried by a strange
fermentation, wholly unwelcome,
waiting for some deep sea change
to relieve you, for a rich curing agent to turn you
back to yourself.

I know you’d prefer sweet yeasts on your tongue,
their musk on your skin, their amorous softness,
but your salt struggle is
the brine that transforms you,
your grief’s complex cultures
are food for your bloom.

I know you think you’re dissolving,
but, oh love, your salt is like sweetness,
balm to my heart, tender with flavour.
Oh love, you’re bursting with comfort,
softened with yearning
you melt on my tongue.

Since the beginning of July I’ve been participating in an online course with Maya Stein called 100 Words: The Beauty of Brevity. It’s a course only loosely; mostly it’s a one-word prompt each day, a few helpful comments from Maya and other participants, and the challenge to write daily and keep things brief. This is from the prompt “salt.” Poetry always feels like a work in progress lately. This is about 140 words, in case you’re counting.

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