Salt (in the Wound)

Painting by Elena Katsyura

What did you learn in school today, the bored mom asked her teenage son at the dinner table
not looking up from her phone
not noticing quiet tears falling on shuffled peas.

How to multiply polynomials, conjugate in the subjunctive, how violently sudden the last gasp of air comes to the bullet-holed classmate, how it feels to be expendable, grieving, and let down all at once. That was never on the syllabus or the glossy website. Forget being fruitful and multiplying when we don’t even know what X is. Forget wishing and hoping when we shed (others’) blood for the correct version of hypothetical. We are willing to (let someone else) die for what we are (not) willing to sacrifice. Don’t ever tell me to be bold again if this is what it looks like. 

But before any of the words came out, she was back on the agenda. Business as usual.


“No, mom, I don’t need any fucking salt.”

©2018, Amaya Engleking



  1. Ron & Anna · February 16

    Anna here. I like SALT (in the Wound). You pull the read right in. The scene is well defined; the boy’s are emotions deep; Mom is distant.

    If I may suggest an edit. “What did you learn in school today?” the bored mom asked her teenage son at the dinner table, not looking up from her phone, not noticing quiet tears falling on shuffled peas.

    A. L. Russell

    • Gospel Isosceles · February 16

      Ok Anna, I edited it in a different way with poetic license;) I wanted to show without quotes or punctuation how what the mom says is only perfunctory and doesn’t matter to her, so won’t matter to her son. But “Salt?” is something that hurts, so he answers, of course not needing any when his tears more than sufficiently season his dinner.

  2. pvcann · February 16

    When will it end?

  3. Rick · February 16

    My favorite writing of yours and there are many. Very powerful! Very sad! Fucking sad! We are raising our children, I have 2 where this is now normal. We as a people are at fault for not becoming active and demanding change. Today will be grief and outrage. Funerals will be planned and tonight we will turn on the Olympic Games …ironic and sad…we will use games to distract us from reality. There will be more. I pray for your children and mine. I pray for all the families who will never be whole. I pray for that coach who used his body as a human shield to save lives. I’m numb but I don’t want to be. I need to be writing letters to those in power.

    • Gospel Isosceles · February 16

      Rick, are you familiar with the poet, Peter Notehelfer? I’ve been following his blog for a couple years now and am continually awed by the grace and truth of his pen. Here is one of his poems that I wanted to share with you regarding what we can each individually do to show that we do indeed love our children, our own and our neighbors’.

      I personally don’t believe writing to “those in power” will enact the kind of radical change we must enact today –now — not teetering with legislation, but taking back the power that is ours in God’s name. It’s now Lent, the perfect time to give up caring about the Olympics and other games and give that energy to God, keeping our hearts and our prayers focused on those hurting now, for as long as we need to until we see a change. It’s a small sacrifice we can make for the victims and future would’ve-been victims.

    • Gospel Isosceles · February 16

      Oh Lord, inhabit our hearts. Let us see how you love us so we will know how to extend love to ourselves, others, kin, enemies, strangers. Keep safe Rick’s family in these times of fear and uncertainty and let them all be beacons of your light. Amen.

      • Rick · February 16

        Thank you so much for the blessing of your prayer! On a fairly regular basis I will ask my blog community to communally pray as it is such an important part of our prayer lives! Thank you for providing a new person to read! Praying for you and your family and writing ministry!

  4. Anonymous · February 16

    How do we know what/how to be when nothing is real anymore?

  5. Anonymous · February 16

    How do you stop a free fall when there is nothing but aire – and you can’t breathe anymore?

  6. Peter Notehelfer · February 16

    I fear we have become disconnected wires in love’s electrical circuit: others flip the switch and the light just doesn’t come on . . . Powerful poem, Amaya . . .

    • Gospel Isosceles · February 20

      Thank you, Peter. I want to share your poem, but for some reason I’m not seeing the reblog option anymore. I’ll figure something out. I appreciate your comment and your heart inclined to love very much.

  7. Diana · February 16

    The words are amazing, but not as amazing as you are… with your fractured heart bleeding out. You are something!

    • Gospel Isosceles · February 20

      I have never been directly affected by a school shooting. A guy I played in a band with in high school was shot in the leg at Columbine, a school fifteen minutes away from mine. But I am having a difficult time imagining myself in the shoes of a bereaved parent/sibling/friend/child of the victims. I’m leaning toward homeschooling or just straight up leaving this batshit crazed country.

  8. Waltermarks · February 16

    Salt is powerful seasoning, your words are also quite powerful. How sad it is the children who suffer these deadly insults, and we are so unfeeling

  9. Imelda · February 16

    Sad in so many ways. The mother offering salt is just so symbolic and powerful.

  10. Tonya LaLonde · February 17

    Happy Birthday, beautiful!❤

  11. Frank Hubeny · February 22

    I liked this description: “the correct version of hypothetical”

  12. sanaarizvi · February 22

    That salt stings .. especially if one’s disinterested in the said conversation. Powerfully written, Amaya!

  13. Carol J Forrester · February 22

    It almost hurts to read this. The current situation in America leaves me somewhat speechless if I’m honest. I live in the UK so the lack of reaction from government is perplexing in comparison to how the British government responded when faced with a similar situation. This is a fantastically written piece.

  14. Linda Kruschke · February 22

    I wonder how many tragedies could be avoided if only all parents were more in tune with what their children are going through.

    • Gospel Isosceles · February 24

      Exactly. I remember reading an article in the New Yorker about that Lanza kid who killed all those first graders at Sandy Hook. His parents were just so obliquely out of tune with his life and their respective roles in it. It was frustrating to read their point of view, as if running through a viscous dream and remaining stuck. I do remember at the closing of the article his father wishing his son had never been born.

  15. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) · February 22

    You capture a world where we have ceased to listen to the young… I had hope for a short while until the vile Mr LaPierre gave his speech …

    • Gospel Isosceles · February 24

      I missed that particular speech that I’m sure is not something I haven’t heard hundreds of reactionary times, especially in my rural setting. A broken record over here, Björn. Especially when people feel their rights infringed upon. Take away our kids, eh, it’s collateral. Take away our guns, it’s game on.

  16. Memorizing! & Powerful driven poetic image. Your heart pours out the truth that sees the day.

  17. Neeraj Khanka · February 22

    And then we blame our young generation of being lost. May be we ourselves have played a part in it.

  18. Beverly Crawford · February 22

    A moving capture of what might have been a scene in many homes in Florida this past week. Lord, help us put a stop to this madness!

  19. Grace · February 22

    I felt the emotional undertones and despair between mom and child. How sad to lose that deep connection and not be actively listening to each other. Salt indeed to a deep wound.

  20. Janice · February 22

    Powerful write. Glad you linked it up tonight. The tenacious inability to regulate guns is infuriating (and I live north of the border)

  21. rothpoetry · February 22

    The new addiction/distraction… So sad that communication gets lost in the flicks of the thumbs…

  22. petrujviljoen · February 22

    Strong write.

  23. annell4 · February 23

    If only…..busy lives, computers, phones and such…hard to see what is gloing around you.

  24. paul scribbles · February 23

    Somehow you have managed to pull words from that void where there are none. This is such a compassionate piece.

  25. willow88switches · February 23

    in an epic age of connection – there is such disconnection

    we gather more, but know and understand less
    we speak but don’t listen
    we don’t look people in the eyes and hear the unspoken words
    common sense is as lost as good manners and respect

    powerful reactionary poem

  26. Vivian Zems · February 23

    A painful reflection of what’s happened. You did it well.

  27. Sascha Darlington · February 23

    Very powerful. Salt in wound, salt in tears. I cannot fathom how any mother/father in these times would not put away their electronics, grab their child close to them and hug the hell out of them and pay attention.
    More tears.

  28. Frank J. Tassone · February 23

    No less a devastating read than the first time! Insightful, prophetically honest as it is heart-piercing. Wonderful write, Amaya!

  29. MarinaSofia · February 24

    Truthful and heartbreaking on so many levels. I have teenage sons (well, one of them is and the other is nearly) and I’m always afraid we don’t communicate enough and I don’t understand all of their fears and emotions.

  30. Ali Grimshaw · February 24

    This packed an emotional punch, as it should. Reality, but I wish it wasn’t.

  31. Gritty Momma · March 4

    Shew. Good.

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