Lot’s Wife

by Anna Akhmatova

The just man followed God’s messenger,
Vast and bright against the black hill,
But care spoke in the woman’s ear:
‘There’s time, you can look back still,

At Sodom’s red towers where you were born,
The square where you sang, where you’d spin,
The high windows of your dark home,
Where your children’s lives entered in.’

She looked, and was transfixed by pain,
Unsure whether she could still see,
Her body had turned to translucent salt,
Her quick feet rooted there, like a tree.

A loss, but who still mourns the breath
Of one woman, or laments one wife?
Though my heart can never forget,
How, for one look, she gave up her life.

(The reference is to Lot’s wife in Genesis 19:26)