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xxxvii. Signs and Wonders - Salt


Old English sealt

Fish and Chips

Out from his takeaway food shop,

he looks beyond the greasy glass

where gum trees swarm in the wind

like green schools of fish in dark branches.

He still hears sea at the end of the road

on stormy days, but rarely sees it now.

Besides the early morning shadows,

cold August smokes the panes.

Chip baskets splutter in hot oil,

makes a small black foam flecked ocean,

and he dreams of Ithaca-

his father's boat and rope-rough hands;

bringing in the catch;

the single village street and smells;

soft cooked white flesh of fish;

the resined wine.

Squeezed between a Christian bookstore

and a shop that's always up for rent

his display case window fronts the street.

And on an assortment of dull grey trays

the silver stare of dead fish eyes,

caught between a decoration

of corks in caught string netting-

snaring plastic crabs and shells,

where lino curls in a corner by the door.

A small difficult wave,

each morning he struggles safely from.

A soul returning to the sea

overboard and presumed lost-

from all the stories of his childhood.

And the old men who used to say

that dying out there in the dark

after a first agony of swallowed water

was just like going to sleep.

Recalling those first few awful years, here-

of trying to make ends meet;

remember names; say HELLO in English.

Now air is full of salt;

the sweet wine mist of vinegar and oil;

the nodding warmth of shop and stove.

Immersed in the late grey winter morning

safe with his sleeping gods.

Still swimming - and almost to the shore.

Jeff Guess


If you can give me no ointment for my wound, can you help me by not rubbing salt in? Iranian Proverb

The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea. Swedish Proverb

The salt of patience seasons everything. Italian Proverb

It's as difficult to win love as to wrap salt in pine needles. American proverb

Fear not a jest. If one throws salt at you, you will not be harmed unless you have sore places. Latin Proverb

A proverb is to speech what salt is to food. Panamanian Proverb

Reading: St Matthew 5: 13

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. KJV


Almighty God, we ask Thee to bless this salt, as once You blessed the salt scattered over the water by the Prophet Elisha. Wherever this salt (and water) is sprinkled, drive away the power of evil, and protect us always by the Presence of Thy Holy Spirit. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

from the Roman Catholic ritual for blessing salt

©Jeff Guess 2017

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