In the Shadow of Turning: Throwing Salt / Prodigal Objects

By Carolyn M. Rodgers


In the Shadow of Turning: Throwing Salt


Salt is what
it all becomes.
Salt always did make me crave
sugar. If I could have turned and
looked back, like Lot’s wife,
I never would have.
Turning is for other memories.

Memories are actually seasons
of homeless dreams.
The main event in life is something
we think we can plan, but can’t.
A nest or fishnet of categories. Of hunger.
A need river, running wild in every
imaginable direction.

It would have all been salt, and me,
craving sugar.

Prodigal Objects


when i lose something,
i am all out in the streets
looking for it.
it doesn’t matter if i lost it at home,
or school, or at church.
i think maybe i’ll see it
way ’cross town in impossible places.
department stores, restrooms, hospital
lobbies, telephone booths.

earrings, loves, books, buttons,
notebooks, pens.

i’m looking for them all.
say maybe i lost whatever it is
in california, and here i am in chicago,
2000 miles away, looking for it.

or maybe i lost it in africa and one
day i get a certain feeling and i’m
in chicago and i know i lost it say
400 years ago in africa,
but on this particular day, i just know
i’m going to find it in chicago.

it doesn’t matter what it is.

no it really doesn’t matter what it is,
or where i lost it either.
what matters is the feeling of finding
(there is a law of finding),
what matters is finding on lost days,

and i’m finding that some days
what matters just as much is being found.


These poems originally appeared in MAKE #4, “City in Biography.”

CAROLYN RODGERS, a leading poet of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s whose work wove strands of feminism, black power, spirituality and writerly self-consciousness into a sometimes raging, sometimes ruminative search for identity, died on April 2 in Chicago. She was 69.

Rodgers is most well known for her writing contributions to the Black Arts Movement. Rodgers first became involved in writing during the Black Arts Movement while attending Writers Workshops by the Organization of Black American Culture and Gwendolyn Brooks. She became distinctive as a new black woman poet in the 1960s with the publication of her first two books, Paper Soul and Songs of the Blackbird. Rodgers received the first Conrad Kent Rivers Memorial Fund Award, Poet Laureate Award from the Society of Midland Authors, and an award from the National Endowment of the Arts.

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