THE FIELD GUIDE PROJECT: Salt Lake City, Part II

We are continually grateful for these doses of "home" from Saja Chodosh. Make sure to check out her earlier installments of her series of poems as a part of THE FIELD GUIDE PROJECT. 

TEXT & IMAGES: Saja Chodosh

Thoughts on Botany

We play most of our games  
in June. Feet pressed against
the edges of a salt slot canyon, corn hole,
teasing amber smoke across the wet ground
of a 1 am rain storm when the sky forgets

the concept of loyalty. It calls me on the glance.

Says, don’t be afraid of seeing me split.
Our first time, I was afraid to unlock
my eyes fully and I think you were too.
The moving body often wants to dig
through space without knowing its confines.

Light cracks bruised apricot
once the eyes unlatch, 
unfasten upon human lines.
To understand that we are whole
is a bedroom illusion that shakes
only within a salt slanted ceiling. 


This is a city of geographical
boundaries—ash hazel mountains
and snow tops that withhold melting,

beg stay in a voice that reminds
me of my first boyfriend and why
it took so long for me to leave
even though I knew of the date.

Moss is flowerless because it lacks
desire, doesn’t want to be held
to anything. Yet, roots are the derivations
of all wanting, the string
with which we can’t help but hold
ourselves to another: fingers, smoke, 
sex, home, the light purple
of a bruised back bone.

In this binding, there is a constant reproduction
of a capsule of apricot light,
by which I mean to say
that despite the rules of botany,
and how low and green the carpet, 
I loved you before
I wanted you and I wish
I had told you then,
before summer untangled its moss
wrist, opened and begged: look away,
I’m splitting.

 

Mineral Stage

The afternoon my ankles thawed
the valley salted itself. The skyline
was a catch of shrimp paddling
to de-tail me back into a human.
From the human came opal  
dandelions, came pollen & petal,
came grain & powder.

I used to want you whole,
they said.
The mountains were a story
of aberration. Between the red
rock chasms, spiders dropped

from the lack of air. They lost
limbs. I heard snow fall
in my dreams. I was a guardian
of lemon & birthstone. I hiked
a trail, collecting rinds.
My pockets filled with opal ice.
You can grate a home out of peels.
You can hollow a wall from wind.
You can dance on a brick staircase
fighting with your feet to frost
or shed until you turn to salt.

Thoughts on Shapes

This is the moment when you leave,
it is August again, didn’t the salt freeze
in the spring, didn’t your tongue melt
into me, weren’t bodies made of scorched
mountain tops, burnt lightning beginnings
of the first day in June

when you walked across the valley,
whiskey valley, moss smell of nine
years of circles in which you lift
your pen and begin again onto
the same orbit.

I remember how we used to think
this city was a grid, baked sun lines
drawing a charcoal tic-tac board
between right neck nook and hips.


I don’t know where the x
sits anymore. I remember how the world
felt, wine flushed and tight,
in glued columns, weren’t the gates
unlatched, didn’t we climb the north fence,
pour ourselves through windows,
into beds.

Didn’t this happening end,
didn’t the melting salt
flood our hip walls,
didn’t the city lines blur
of consequence.

I know longer care what sound
want makes.

One of the scary things about desire
is how we never name the origin.

Wasn’t it the wood carved neck,
wasn’t it your father’s room,
doesn’t it all come down
to dancing and wine, a floor,
didn’t you want me in waves, in smoke,
small brine currents, freely.  

Tell me this is the end,
I won’t trust you.
Tell me this is a circle,
I won’t belief your words,
didn’t you want this.

Ode to Salt

Salt, don't be afraid.
The end of the valley is so low ahead

it is already beneath us.
Don’t kiss. Your friend is only your friend
until one of you forgets. Like how the back
acts like its heart doesn’t remember the fingers
that have touched it no matter how many times
they have returned to the first knob of spine.
Salt, you confuse me.
The most grainy part of wanting
is the holding of it. It is wherever the brine
towers grow & we are raw in the stardust sea.
It is crusted in the rain
mine of the cracks holding too many circle lines
to count. We must ring around what we need
because just call it a ring
& you’ll never promise anything. 
The world is a blue glass
bowl waiting to forgive fire for not bending
it sooner. Here is the salty valley parched
to a sole looking back. Just call it hope.
You ask for eight years of return
but are given a shoulder bone to bite.
The most lovely part of bones
is myth. Here’s your house with all the windows
open. Here’s the small shrimp wind. Here’s everyone
whosever wanted anyone trapped in the first
floor kitchen: biting stone counters & crying
about a friend, bruised peach juice, ripened time.
I promise, life is ringing. I promise,
again & again, I want you
on my tongue.