History of Salt, History of Spiral


It is said the man built a spiral in salt and in six days.
He wore hip-waders. Waiting.
Ordered rocks. Made it to hold the soul
of the water. A backhoe scooped and anchored.
Beneath the crown of sea, hoe on hoe
had piled to a pattern of metal.
Archimedes made a spiral to place a curve.
A curve can run from a fixed point to a length.
The artist rebuilt his spiral. Wider,
built it to circle backwards, from empty
to the ambit of cosmos. To place
what wasn’t there. The backhoe carried basalt,
placed it in salt. The salt was pink. The flats, green.
The salt was white, like nothing. For a while, rocks
were buried in bubbles of salt. The man in black waders.
The mathematician imagined a spiral that threw
constant speed, constant velocity.
The artist made a spiral to match the horizon.
The lake is shallow and without outlet. Ice age lake
watched, unwatched. Within the spiral, you cannot find it.
It is said the lake is nearly one-third salt.
The salt makes a crust. The rock is black. The spiral
is always a spiral. You are there and not
at the same time. And you are carrying
a question. Maybe all your questions. To walk it
is to accompany dreams. You walk to a sound
that is neither a hum nor a squeal, but time shifting
its angles. Sand seeding. Later, the colors
will be earth, pink, green. It is said that absence
will come forward. You will need to see
from above. You will not see.


Lauren Camp is the author of seven books, most recently Worn Smooth between Devourings (NYQ Books, 2023). Her poems have been translated into Mandarin, Turkish, Spanish, French, and Arabic. She currently serves as Poet Laureate of New Mexico.