Valentine for the Great Salt Lake by Sunni Wilkinson

From the sky, your clusters of brine shrimp eggs
   huddle and drift into thick brown swirls
       like pools of chocolate milk. You, mother
to millions, amniotic sac waiting to hatch
    innumerable legs, flat and upright,
       that paddle and push tiny boats
of creatures toward each other.
    You are buoyancy of bodies
       toppled with light. You are love potion.

From the sky you are the brightest glint,
    shine of a gum wrapper, a wild lick
       across our desert face. From the sky you are
a lost child. I bring my children to you
    and something primordial breathes
       under our feet. My sons wear
your salty crust, your brush
    of mineral across their bare and freckled legs
       all the long drive home. They sleep inside

your mottled and endless light.
    You are the place
       that held me while I listened
to the meadowlark’s song
    on a Spring afternoon so wide
       and long that nothing but the wind
in the brown grass
    and that single bird
       moved. You are the heart of stillness,
heart of lark and coyote, pink heart

of Floyd, the flamingo who fled
    the Salt Lake aviary and lived
       in the heart of you
for years, migrating then returning,
        a sighting of him like a flash
          of pink, a thump in the chest,
    a one-legged valentine
        lost in blue.

Note from the poet: For me, Antelope Island is a place of magic, where light is caught and reflected in every direction, and underneath is always that almost mythical lake, opening the earth into another sky. And a day I spent with my family one Spring a couple of years ago, listening to meadowlarks near the lake, is still one of my most cherished memories.

This verse is Part 46 of irreplaceable, a collective prayer of praise for Great Salt Lake.