Salt by Julia Nunnally Duncan

When he found me hiding bashfully
behind a tree at my babysitter’s house,
he held out the small round box.
My Army sergeant uncle was home on leave
when he surprised me;
he was a seasoned soldier whose World War II Purple Hearts,
stored upstairs in my grandmother’s house,
had become playthings for his nieces and nephews,
no wife or children to hand his mementos down to.
“Open it,” he said,
and I removed the lid
and found white crystals like diamonds hid inside.
“It’s salt from Turkey,” he explained,
and I wet my forefinger and pushed it into the mound
then pressed it to my tongue,
savoring its taste.
Later that day when my elderly babysitter
caught me eating the salt,
she took it away,
saying it would dry up my blood.
How unfair, I thought,
her taking my salt.
And though now I understand her concern
for a five-year-old child’s health,
I wish I still had the little box,
a treasure brought just for me
from a faraway land.


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