The Salt Lick

Choose me
like I chose you all those years
ago, like we chose to spend that weekend
at the bottom of a lake that dried up
fourteen thousand years ago past
somewhere between Utah and Nevada, Mountain
and Pacific, temples
and brothels, God
and the ungodly. We drove since dawn
just to see the salt flats and then,
after the Boise police searched the car
and found a fixed blade instead of weed, after
the disappointing diners and the ice cream
shaped like baked potatoes. After the porn-soaked
hotel room with mirrors on the ceiling we tucked
down into a truck stop cantina—heavy
horses with feedbags, one chile relleno
after another. I felt the heat in my throat
and the slick on my lips, but I just kept tasting
the salt of when I’d pretended I didn’t notice
you taking photo after photo on the flats. Me, barefoot,
bending and licking
the brittle white salt from some prehistoric lake.

Jessica Mehta


Jessica (Tyner) Mehta is a Cherokee poet, novelist, and storyteller. She’s the author of five collections of poetry, Constellations of My Body (forthcoming), Secret-Telling Bones, Orygun, What Makes an Always, and The Last Exotic Petting Zoo, as well as a novel The Wrong Kind of Indian. She’s been awarded the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Prize in Poetry, and numerous poet-in-residencies posts including positions at Hosking Houses Trust and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, Paris Lit Up in France, and the Acequia Madre House in Santa Fe, NM.

© 2018