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Dead Sea

Reflections on the Dead Sea

The poet's imagination conjures up a Dead sea that is as tranquil as the Wisconsin lake but her experience and history tell her otherwise.

The Dead Sea of my imagination:

     is a tranquil Wisconsin lake

     sheltered by cool firs and a cove

     with velvet cat-tails brushing my

     eight-year-old geography mind

     where I recline on buoyant salt

     water that suspends me like

     an air mattress. I stare at the sky,

     floating, floating, floating,

     chagalled above the sea

     even though my fifth grade

     textbook says, “below sea level”.


 The Dead Sea of my experience:

    is set like an artificial black opal

    in the Israeli desert, beige and brittle

    even in side vision, no green foliage

    to provide protection from a militant,

    Masada sun; ridges of salt, not friendly

    sand threaten my balance as I approach

    the water then walk up to my waist

    trying to keep upright, like a child’s

    plastic, roly-poly toy.  When I lean back

    to float, the salt water supports me as I

    expected but then pushes at my legs as

    insistently as Newton’s Third Law of

    Motion when I try to reestablish them

    on the crenulated seafloor, the water as

    threatening as a Hydra waiting to squeeze

    the life out of me as the history around me

    has done to the people who have tried

    to live here.

Reflections on the Dead Sea: Welcome
Notebook and Pen

Jan Ball has had 363 poems published in various journals internationally and in the U.S. including: ABZ, Mid-American Review, and Parnassus. Finishing Line Press published her three chapbooks and first full-length poetry collection, I Wanted To Dance With My Father. Orbis, England, nominated her for the Pushcart Prize in 2020 and Constellations, U.S., nominated her for it in 2021. Besides her poetry, Jan wrote a dissertation at the University of Rochester: Age and Natural Order in Second Language Acquisition after being a nun for seven years then living in Australia for fourteen years with her Aussie husband and two children. Jan has taught ESL in Rochester, New York and Loyola and DePaul Universities in Chicago. When not traveling, or gardening at their farm, Jan and her husband like to cook for friends.

Reflections on the Dead Sea: Text
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