Poetry: Naming the Salt Flats by Alyssa Quinn

Alyssa Quinn’s poem kaleidoscopes from a birds-eye view the earth, the cracking white earth of the salt flats. With fluid grace, the poem moves from the grass and ground to geometric ideals, so that the reader holds both in their mind simultaneously—urging the question, what do we call this place?


Naming the Salt Flats

Mirage seals earth to sky
and silence bells.
Only a peripheral gull, only
a stray crabgrass blade
to interrupt the geometric white—
fractals spinning, senseless, chloride-blind.
Impossible not to think of blue earth
as carbon, as nickel,
as so much mineral.
Impossible not to think of extinction,
how quiet it will be.

It will always be beautiful
she says to the nitrous sky, but

my cornea blazes
white with sun, and
my salt-gloss skin is
Darwinian matter—

this lipless rock
will not name itself



Alyssa Quinn

Alyssa Quinn is an MFA candidate at Western Washington University, where she teaches English composition and works as the assistant managing editor of the Bellingham Review. Her work has appeared in Ninth Letter, Brevity, Sweet, Gingerbread House, Punctuate, and elsewhere.

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