Fourth letter. From the Phoenician daleth, which means “tent door.” After Herodotus, the word is tied to the mouth of a river.
Settlement. A willow stand. A place where you might build something.
Well, the tent door really threw open when the Colorado River burst its banks back in 1905. That was before saline was a novelty here. Now it’s disaster tourism.
It took two years of pure water-bound power to turn this place into a sea, and then the enterprising spirit flooded the place. Put a lake in the middle of the desert and watch us make a colony.
By the late 1950s, weekly vacationers running from dead-end jobs and bad marriages blew the place up. Where else but an over-spilled river to make sense of such confinement?
The Salton Sea.
It didn’t last, of course. Vacations never do. That sad motel wave that swept America in the 1970s left its mark here, a salt-crusted shell of the life of leisure once promised along these shores.
Now you return covered in sand and salt, the earth clinging to your skin in what seems like a desperate attempt to escape.
The landscape follows you home — empty.