Excerpts from “The Diary of Noah’s Wife”
by a contributor
Sealed within this ark, we are shadows amid swine and wild feathers. My tongue rehearses raven shrieks. Noah grunts, shivers beside me; strong arms lasso my shoulders. We’d run barefoot through sky tears hours ago. Now mud between my toes is cold.
The songbirds nudge me awake. They perch on crossbeams, knit nests of straw; plucked human hair. I rub my scalp. Noah smoothes his gray beard. Wings lash air, spawn dust storms. I rise, tear the fabric of my hem, offer bright spun thread to the first brave beak.
I feed more anonymous beasts today. My hands are a whetstone for black hirsute splinters. One gold brute lumbers close, nuzzles my thigh and hip; baptizes with whiskers and purrs. The bittersweet stink of earth and fur anoints my skin.
The constant creak of wood spurns a cruel voice. Noah drops his feed pail, cocks an ear—listens. He holds his scarred hands over torch flame and translates. The sun, he says, is a woman I fail to recall the moment she leaves the room.
Noah dreamt of drowning again; his body, bloated—ocean creatures of the deep snapped their teeth. I dab his eyes with lamb’s wool. Our three sons, he says, were bent over the ship rails, dripping salt into an already swollen sea. My neck filters his screams.
Muted laughter: my eldest son, his wife. I spy below the stable wall. He kneels before her, cheek to bulging belly. She stands above him, rubs his hair. The foal beside me blinks. We’ll call him Noah, she says. I know joy floats high above the ruined Earth.
The army of ants and honeybees that interrupt the moon and stars burrow holes in Noah’s mind. He battles insomnia, builds a cradle for an unborn grandchild. Imagine, he says, we’re swaddled within it. Our eyes close. The ark sways as the animals shift their weight.
I bleed again. Earth clings to the body like grass blades. The waters shake their hips and tease. You are a tarnished cup, they sing. But this clever loam mocks them with seed. Seeing color between these legs restores the garden. Oh, how I’ve missed these red blooms.
Sometimes the donkeys kick at stall planks, ache for the open fields of yesterday. Noah shields his ears. The unnerving noise reminds him too much of that last day on dry land. He hears those fists pound again and again against the ark’s closed door.
At midnight, my husband stirs me from fitful sleep, whispers my name with burning kisses. He presses his flesh against mine, enters me from behind. We become wolves howling in the darkness.
Angel Zapata is the recipient of the 2012 Mariner Award for Bewildering Stories’ most outstanding flash fiction work of the year, “Carrion Folk.” His first poetry chapbook collection, “An Offering of Ink and Feathers,” was just published. Visit him at arageofangel.blogspot.com.
Does one need a flood to be rocked to seas by the literary voyage Angel Zapata takes you on?
I think not. I hear things now and smell things now and am pulling things I do not know of from my hair — after reading this master scribe at prose again.
~ Fan and fanfare,