The Dead Sea

— Nafisa A. Iqbal

Three million years ago, the tectonic dance of plate edge against plate edge carries a piece of the Mediterranean Sea inland and lies her down, little baby, in a cradle formed by the hills of Judaea. She writhes, lying atop silken sheets of supple dolomite, forming wrinkled topographies. She coos and it is the sound of water lapping at shores. She feeds at the breast of the Jordan River, her wet nurse, for lack of Mother Mediterranean. Her soft belly swells with mineral soup and hardens with lacustrine deposits. Perfect ice cubes of halite polished against gritty salt pearls tumbling in the benthic depths of her stomach. There are other things: shale, clay, rock salt, gypsum. Then marl. Then soft chalk, all left as residue under the thick milk of evaporation. Over millennia, they stack into diapirs. Geologic intrusions. Pillars of salt. They say one of them is the wife of Lot looking back at Sodom against the orders of God.

Al-Bahr Al-Mayyit, they name her, ‘Sea of Death,’ when she is not even sea. When she is stolen from coasts, green and writhing, and left, by no choice of her own, on arid wasteland.

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