Of Course She Looked Back

Poet Natalie Diaz wrote
about this mysterious woman
in a poem called–Yes!–
“Of Course She Looked Back.”

Listen to Irish poet and theologian
Padraig O’Tuoma
read this poem from his podcast
called “Poetry Unbound.”

Make sure you listen
with full attention
to Diaz’s lovely and haunting poem.

And feel free to listen to it
as often as you like.

What struck you in the poem?
What, for the poet, were the reasons
why she chose to turn back?

Again, feel free to share your guesses below.


28 replies on “Of Course She Looked Back”

Too much rhetoric and beautiful words. Was it just to allow the innocent to be “collateral damage”?

No, I have not said this before.

Sodom and Gomorrah, it might ALSO be the things that keep us busy/preoccupied. Things that we think give value to us. Things that keep us in motion. Might be our reputation, wealth, social lives, jobs, etc. Mrs. Lot just couldn’t let go of these things easily. Probably even if she never looked back, she might have brought these things as a heavy burden in her heart/mind.

There were many things that made her look back I think based on the poem: her concern for those left behind and begging for help, for things both living and non-living that were being destroyed as they fled. I agree, the concern may be a manifestation of her attachment to these. Come to think of it, focusing on God needs our full cooperation, trust, hope, love and everything we are. Just a spec of distraction can lead us off the track.

The parts that struck me were:

1) When she asked questions if she unplugged the coffee pot..hinting that there may have been thoughts of which she blamed herself for all these destruction that happened. Uncertainties..

2) The sting in her eyes.. the neighbors begging her name.. it may have indicated that she was also concerned for the past she left behind, perhaps the people part of her sinful lifestyle?

Why she looked back (gleaned from the poem):
1. Curiousity based on sounds she heard that meant suffering
2. Her attachment to people, things familiar to her
3. Some people calling her name (This struck me the most)
4. Reason no. 3 distracted her, and caused her not to heed the angel’s advice

Perhaps she had HOPED that it wasn’t only them – her husband and two children – who made it out alive? She may or may not have been a “bad person” who deserved to be turned into salt for disobeying… but she was someone’s friend, family to those who were left to perish.

Of course, she looked back.
I think, I would have, too.

I was struck by the lines: She meant to look away…Neighbors begging her name.
I think this tells me that you can’t watch suffering from a distance. It is not right to just watch and because of this, she was consumed by the suffering she just meant to watch from afar.

The poet thinks that the woman looked back because the situation made her think about what she left, how it was like being there. It makes her think and imagine but not so much feel

I was struck by the line, Neighbors begging her name. She looked back because she felt something is wrong, felt something forgot to do. She looked back because of her instinct.

I was struck by the line, Neighbors begging her name. She looked back because she felt something is wrong, felt something forgot to do. She looked back because of her instinct.

What struck me was the line “the noise was something else.” It made me visualize what she was hearing from what was happening to the city and that made her look back. She felt pain for her city and she somehow wanted to sympathize with the people left behind.

Baka nga kunsensya. Tama kayo: napakalupit na parusa para sa napakanatural at marahil may-kabutihang reaksyon.

“Neighbors begging her name.”
This added to the confusion in her mind. After all, the move was hasty. There were people and memories that had value to her there. She had to look back. That look back cost her her life.
Deep anguish and agony must have fallen on her family members, who cannot look back to search for her.

It was such a human thing to do to look back. Why did the angels make such a harsh imposition on Lot’s family?

I have often wondered about this, too. Was the imposition “not to look back” only figurative language, did it mean something else, much like the words of Jesus in the Gospel “he who puts his hand on the plough and looks back is not worthy of the kingdom of heaven”?

I truly felt it was a terribly harsh punishment that was imposed on her, especially since the act of looking back could have many possible motivations, both good and not so good, but all of them human — compassion, worry, empathy, curiosity.

Yes, I would probably also have looked back like what Lot’s wife did. Aside from my tendency to be curious, it would be difficult to gnore the calling of my name from somebody in desperate situation.

She meant to look away…but maybe she heard a call. …Her neighbor’s call. She turned towards the sound. And the neighbor’s calling her name…

“Neighbors begging her name.” Perhaps Lot’s wife’s conscience is also glaring at her. Leaving the land she lived for a long time and the friends she made from that city could be the sentimental things she wants to look back for the last time.

Lot’s wife witnessed the destruction of the place she probably has lived all her life and therefore, loved. “Of course she looked back – and you would have, too” – there was a compelling reason to do it. Maybe a loved one was left? Maybe like most mothers are- she was worried that she might have left something still plugged in or may be the doors were not locked? A lot of maybes. A lot of unfinished business. A lot of baggage.

Only in mind would look back at how my life evolved esp in terms of being spiritually connected which the hectic work & multi tasks required. Sometimes it is nice to look back because it gives you a picture of the “progress” you have so far achieved .. more importantly it gives you a GRATEFUL HEART ❤️

I don’t think nor do I want to go back to my life before pandemic. Otherwise, I don’t think I would have learned from the lessons and amazing gifts God is making me experience in this worldwide crisis.

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