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    • APIARY 11: The Essential Issue

A Brief History of Noah

by Autumn Konopka

1. Flood

Noah doesn’t have many pre-school playmates. 
While children chase and ricochet,
his bird hair flies above the chaos in watch.
His letters float and jumble
as if in a bowl of milk, so rather than read 
or scratch symbols onto worksheets,
he watches the class hamster 
wander its city of wheels and tunnels.
Noah’s hands land like a dove 
on the lip of the cage, a container
just deep enough to be filled, 
flooded, a world 
underwater, as in his stories.
In the absence of buckets,
Noah rains his juice 
on the hamster’s head, 
watches it struggle
toward the highest pile of wood chips. 
After that, his parents take him 
off refined sugar and food dyes.
He builds boats out of Legos.
God is deeply disappointed.


2. Evolution

When he is 15, Noah 
wants to know more. He learns 
in biology about asexual animals
- stick bugs, boa constrictors - 
and wonders if God needed two of these,
wonders why the fish got to live;
did that family sink lines from the ark?
Is this how they appeased the food chain 
for 40 days? And after, 
how to prevent extinction -
so many species left only with two?
Gazelles, for instance, 
need 6 months to gestate;
but a lion, just one day, 
maybe two, till its ready 
to kill.  This was ill-conceived
Noah tells God.
But God doesn’t answer. Or maybe 
He says: It doesn’t concern you.
Cold. Weary of second guessing, 
He could explain 
He eventually gave the fish feet
to crawl out of water, 
grow wings and fly.
But this would anger so many
if they could even hear
a mere boy, face pressed to fish tank,
whispering, Yes, yes!
This explains it all.


3. Repopulation

At 30, Noah has a child.
He insists on a water birth at home.
His wife would rather 
schedule her C-section,
but consents,
as good biblical women do.
They fill their plastic pool,
hire a doula.
In the background, they play 
whale sounds, birdsongs.
Still, there is screaming.
Of course there is blood.
Noah wonders if anyone
was born on the ark:
who or what?
And where?
And did they scrub the blood stains 
from the floorboards
or leave them
as reminder?
Noah’s carpet is covered
with 3.0 mil painters’ plastic. 
There will be nothing left behind.
The baby gushes into existence,
surfaces, and gulps
her first breath.
Noah will never forget how 
blood changed the water.


4. Survival

Old man Noah unearths
his storybook Bible,
the one from his childhood
with pictures of cartoon cities 
under water
and cartoon people 
surrounded by locusts, 
begging for mercy. 
“God says it is important that we obey.”
It is covered in dust,
gauzy gray strands
like his hair. 
He blows it clean,
a gift for his new grandson.
Another Noah
in a long line of Noahs, 
circling now 
into a support group 
of survivors. 
He begged his daughter 
to choose any other name:
Joseph or Luke.
Jacob. Gabriel.
It’s a family name
she insisted. She 
who never felt the tug 
of a drowning man
and pulled away.
A legacy.


Read all work by Autumn Konopka


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