Noah’s Lament

Lord, you know I was no man of renown in those days of old,

when there were giants in the earth.

Good men walked straight then, but there was no rest

for the wicked or the saint

when the Lord decided that he could not wait

for the thing he did not have. Good men are not born, but made.

You told me to keep all good things alive, to be made better.

Who am I to make such miracles

when my name is a mystery

to the elk and its kind, the lion and its mate?

Flapping flacon, leopard, lizard, lynx;

loping doe, flustered owl and sharp hares that leap in snow;

all are here and fear. E’en the denizens of the deep

can hear the thunder crash;

turtles cower in corners, the whelps are afeared

and we have nothing save ourselves.

Under infinity, above the earth, we drifted beyond the mountains.

Too tied to the soil to see that all was sky,

we did not realize then

that this was the home of angels.

Thus chaos died and rose again

so many times that eagles wept.

We could not soothe them,

though we tried.

Soothing the smooth bellies of snakes

and stroking the salamander’s tail,

I remembered when you named me blameless among men,

and I swore vengeance.

I cannot believe that my neighbor

could not draw breath worthy of you, and I can.

I am no man of virtue blooming fresh in the desert.

I curse your burnished-copper pride,

to name our loves wicked and our people unworthy of life;

I knew no goats left wild, no fields left fallow

save when it was their time.

We kept care of the things we had.

I am a man who swore to keep all safe.

I keep few in my hold now, and most perished at the gates.

I beat back butterflies, shut the bull and sow out.

The fish leapt up and floundered on the deck,

the birds’ wings were caught in the door.

As the waters rose,

the whales sang pain.

We were too long at sea, Lord, on the sea that was no sea.

Harsh chatter of the monkeys, sharp cry of katydid:

swear in the silence of my heart that

it is only the rain, it will make the earth soft.

We will plow again, this ox shall work the field

and my children shall wield both scythe and shield,

taste the grain they planted and fight their God in their hearts;

hearts that will not yield to strife, nor sin.

I will wait for the relent, the silence of the storm

that is of my heart. Our fate is tied to the rain.

When the Lord had mercy on the quiet

and the dove cooed to its mate, I wept.

Who knew the heavens held such tears

as well?

© 2015 Anna-Christina Betekhtin, All Rights Reserved.

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