Abraham’s nephew, Lot, meets Orpheus. Each is mourning his wife, who was lost when the husband or wife looked back while fleeing places of death.
“You lost her to the flames?”

“No, not directly. I thought that I had lost her, but she reemerged. Then I lost her once again.”

“Lost to the looking back.”

“To the looking back.”

I’d been trying to write the story of Lot and Orpheus for decades, first as a story, then as a poem, then as a sketch for an opera. I then forgot about it for a while. While working on the later sections (not chance-derived) of The Book of Voices, I realized that it would fit here, and gave it one more try. (A quick web search shows that others have also noticed this similarity.)

Reading this now, I notice that both the previous story and this one include women rescued from houses on fire (Iscah in the story of Terach, and Lot’s wife here). This is echoed in the story of Aspaklarya, though she was rescued by fire rather than from it.

And as in the story of Japheth, there is the sense of recovery through community, of coming to a sort of relief and resolution through finding just one other person who has had the same experience and who can understand your history and emotions.


Have you ever lost someone or something without the chance to say farewell? If you did have the chance to say goodbye to them, what would you say?

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