Eric Hertz

Incarnation to Salt
–Winner of the 2018 Bermuda Triangle Prize

After he’d become a man, and healed the
sick, and died, and risen again, God

became salt. Man was made in God’s image;
being man was nothing new. But salt—

salt eluded God. He’d made it unthinking, like
one puts on a shoe before leaving home.

So, one day, he raised his arms up like a child, and
the earth slipped a crystal-colored dress

over his lack of flesh. What did God feel then
when the beasts stuck their pink tongues

on stones to taste him? People hungered, hacked, gathered

him up from black caves into fractured clumps
in sacks to sell him. In the little glass churches on diner counters

he heard the endless debates of salts,
got swept up into their arguments, abandoned reason,

cried out with the others in their hunger and desire—how
they wanted to be baptized into water!

Some said it’d be only pain and further division.
Water, they said, was the scalpel drawn down

the center of the brain to make two minds where
there was one. Still, they wanted it done,

like the souls of the damned that shake in craving,
eager to get over the Acheron into Hell.

Others contended water was Heaven’s gate: that
dissolution was the crumbling of

a prison, the exit from the painted trap
of form, whose single taste is unknown to itself.

The water’s surface, they argued, was the only wall
between them and the one glassy God they would become— and

that wall had no thickness.

God himself debated both positions, remembered
something, forgot it, forgot he had

remembered it, until the salt shaker shook, and
he slipped at last inside a bowl of soup,

curled between its charge, let the two parts of
his atomic mind be pulled apart

but not quite divided—it was a gentle and natural
teasing, like how sound divides into music

or hours sift into seconds. And then

he was no longer himself—he was other,
split and double, spinning. Two spoons

stirred his chloride and sodium parts in soup.
Two spoons of two lovers eating

together on a winter day: tomato bisque
with the God that split God and got lost

inside of it. You can imagine, in all horror,
what it’s like to die in crucifixion.

But you cannot imagine what it’s like to
lose your crystal body to become

solution—to swell two lovers’ bloods
thick, in swarms of cells—to be lost in life as

time is lost or caught inside a clock.

Contributor Notes