No urban night is like the night there… Squares after squares of flame, set up and cut into the aether. Here is our poetry, for we have pulled down the stars to our will.

–Ezra Pound

Genesis, Chapter 19

Sodom, City of the Plain

Lot saw two travelers approaching the busy city gate as the sky turned orange and green. He was impressed by their countenances and bearing and hurried to greet them.

Lot said while bowing low: “My Masters, welcome to Sodom. Please, come to my house, I will put you up for the night, prepare you a feast, and show you around this wondrous city.”

The female traveler motioned for him to rise and said: “No, that’s fine. We won’t be here very long.”

Lot urged them: “Oh but you must stay until morning. I won’t have you sleeping in the streets.”

He convinced them to accept his hospitality. His servants prepared a large feast of bread and fruit. Lot and his guests sat back with full bellies.

The travelers talked of sleep, and whispered to each other. As Lot made sure his bed was clean and prepared to give to his guests, there was knocking at his door.

When Lot didn’t answer, the visitors called through the windows: “Lot! Are you coming out tonight, or what? If you have guests, don’t worry, bring them along! Let’s show them how we party!”

Lot rushed to the door and outside to speak with them. “Look guys, tonight’s not a good night. My guests just want to rest. Have a good time without me.”

The crowd laughed and ribbed Lot:

“Oooh, got special guests, eh? Trying to keep them all to yourself?”
“What, we’re not good enough for you?”
“Leave your guests, come out, have some fun!”
“Just come out when they’re asleep! Do you think leaving them alone is going to be the end of the world?”

Lot seemed about to concede, but the door opened and the female traveler’s arm snapped out and pulled him back in and shut the door with a single motion. The male traveler said to the crowd: “Lot will not be going out tonight, he is leaving. And if you know what’s good for you, you’ll be leaving too.”

As the travelers shut the door, Lot chuckled nervously: “Leaving? I’m not planning to go anywhere. The city is practically my wife! I’m an important leader here, people rely on me. War did not drive me out. Nothing can chase me away.”

The travelers told Lot: “This city will be no more by noon tomorrow. Your uncle, Abraham, sent us to find the good people of the city and warn them. The Elohim is going to see this city destroyed, and the Will of the Eternal will not be stopped, not for you or anyone. Go. If there is anyone you love, any person who’s soul you vouch for in this accursed settlement, get them and bring them here. We leave at dawn.”

Lot went out and found his friends, and repeated the travelers’ warning. They laughed and made jokes at his story. “We get it! You don’t want to party. Fine. You don’t need to disrupt our fun with fairy tales of doom.”

Lot spoke with more friends, acquaintances, business partners, and people who had worked for him. Every time, he was mocked. “Nonsense! Why would any God want to destroy us? There are hundreds of cities worse, and few that are better.”

With each dismissal, Lot searched for others who might hear him. Eventually, he had spoken to the entire city. None believed him. “If you are so close to Gods, why not ask them to spare us?”

Even Lot’s slaves didn’t believe him, though they would follow anywhere he ordered them to. Instead, he set them free, “I won’t force you to follow if you think I’ crazy, but I urge you to flee with me!”

Destruction of the Cities of the Plain

The sky was growing light, the color of fire and sea, and one final dawn prepared itself for Admah, Zeboim, Bela, Gomorrah, and Sodom. Lot was out of breath, having visited every person in the city, given a desperate warning, and been rejected by all. As he opened the door to his home, the travelers stood, glaring at him with impatient expressions. “You cut it close, human.”

Lot collapsed on his floor and gasped for breath. “None… no one would come. I tried to save them, but no one took me seriously. I’ll get my satchel of valuables and leave right away.”

The male traveler moved to the door: “Then you will die, clutching the things you value. You need to start running for the hills, now!”

Lot gasped: “The hills?! My Masters, I have found grace and mercy in your warning, but there is no way I can make it that far. Perhaps I could make it to Bela within the hour, but not the hills.”

The female traveler said to the male: “Go, I will find you.” Then she revealed her glory to Lot; her skin and eyes shone like gold, and a constellation of suns spread behind her like wings.

The archangel grabbed Lot and said: “Close your eyes and don’t look back.”

In a flash of wind and light, Lot was in a small canyon, overlooking the plains of Jordan. The archangel spoke to Lot: “Elohim does not spare cities to prove your worthiness. You are not more worthy than the smoke or the fire or the passing of time. If you believe otherwise, you must prove it.” Lot was left alone, as he looked over the burning plains under a rising sun. They smoked and burned with fire.

Lot thought of all the death, all his friends, who died without reason. Who would remember them? His uncle and the Canaanites around hated them for their wars and greed. There were none to remember their grace, their kindness, how they cared for their children and each other. It was all lost forever, taken by an angry God.

Lot made a vow to weep for them until God asked him to stop, that would prove how worthy they all were. He would let his heart break and remember them. Lot wept, and wept. His tears ran down the hillside. They pooled in the valley, and his tears drown the dead cities, the dead people, and the dead land.

His tears filled the valley, creating a sea of salt. God did not appear to him. Lot’s tears dried around him and he became like a pillar of salt, staring at the life he lost, the city he was married to, all buried under a sea of tears, paralyzed to look over it for the remaining age of the Earth.

Sarah Says Goodbye to Lot

Abraham had told Sarah what was in store for Sodom. At dawn, she left to see if she could retrieve Lot.

When Sarah looked over the valley as the sun shone high, smoke drifted in the sky from old fires, but there was no plain or burning cities, just a dead sea where the cities once were. There was no sign of living humans, she called for Lot and heard no answer.

She turned to leave; a pillar of salt high on the cliffs caught her eye, perched as if in watchful mourning. It looked something like a statue of Lot made in salt. She said a prayer for Lot, wherever he was, and returned home.

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