Sel by Kate Marshall Flaherty

I would never scold an onion  for causing tears    
– Naomi Shihab Nye 


I learned
the salt content of tears
is the same as blood
and the sea—  

that lysosomes 
are healing enzymes,  

and sea salt 
has nourishing minerals.  

We are the same three-fourths water
as the earth.  

Grey Dead Sea salt is the same
as pinkish Himalayan;  

both, so far from home.  

Tears are the same saline
whether they fall to the ground 
or streak cheeks pressed close
in a refugee boat. They dissolve
the borders, or should.  

Let us not wait 
for another boy washed up on shore.  

Salt, enzyme, saline, suffering—
let fear dissolve 
into the pool that is us all. 


Copyright © Kate Marshall Flaherty. First appeared in Poem in Your Pocket Day 2018.


Kate Marshall Flaherty has five books of poetry, including Reaching V (Guernica Editions) and Radiant, launching 2019 with Inanna Publications. She has been published in numerous Canadian and International Journals and Anthologies, has been shortlisted for Descant’s Best Canadian Poem, the Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize, the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Prize, the Robert Frost Poetry Award and others. She is presently Writer in Residence at the Heliconian Arts and Letters Club, Poet in the Schools around Canada, and Toronto Rep. for the League of Canadian Poets. She has participated in National Random Acts of Poetry, and will inaugurate “The Poet Is In” with Marie Howe in Union Station February 2019. She guides StillPoint Writing Workshops in schools, youth shelters. universities and hospitals; poetry is her lifeline. See her performance poetry to music at


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