Salt; Genius Loci | BYU Studies

Salt; Genius Loci

Section and Issue
Book Review
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Author Susan Elizabeth Howe
Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2013
Genius Loci
Genius Loci
Author Lance Larsen
Tampa, Fla.: University of Tampa Press, 2016

Salt; Genius Loci

Reviewer Tyler Chadwick

Our story begins with Adam and Eve and an insatiate snake—or with a variation on the theme. The man's name is Bob. The woman remains nameless. Eve (I'll call her) wrestles with the snake, "Lucy, / short for Lucifer," the couple's "pet python," whom they allow to "slither about [their] bedroom." This isn't the smartest idea, something Eve realizes the night she wakes because Lucy has "wrapped around [her]" like a snake would around live meat. Which the woman is, of course—at least to a hungry snake. Sensing the struggle beside him, Bob wakes and grabs his "Swiss army knife" to take care of the snake; but instead he gets "enmeshed" in the wrestling match, though not so much that he can't grab the phone and call for help.

And that's where Susan Elizabeth Howe's allegorical poem, "Python Killed to Save Woman," leaves our archetypal trio: the serpent trying to wring breath from the couple, the couple struggling for air in Lucifer's tightening squeeze, Bob begging for help, Eve wondering "whose death" will come first (3–4). Little matter, though, because in the end—of the poem as of life—death gets the last word (until Christ speaks up, that is).