December 18, 2018

Cause of Exit

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Terese Svoboda

?                        The Ark Tablet, written 1000 years
before Genesis, remembers it  2 x 2
unclean/clean pairs, with
?            noisiness or wickedness the cause of exit,


the houseboat’s interior bituminized
?                                        with the blackest tar,
Babylonian creosote    then
?            oil smeared everywhere.


?            Noah gave his hundred laborers a farewell party
though he knew they’d all drown,
the moon disappearing after
?                         the first course.         What reason
did he give for the work?


The giants Gibborim and Nephilim
?            roamed the earth but not the Ark –
they’d sink it.
?                                                      Compartments


for the Sirens    and birds on top.
?                         In this version Noah’s sons
and refused to board.


?                                      Ante-
diluvian, basically the Ice Age,
the world covered
?                        with vapor canopy
?         and sea monsters,
thunder and lightning


wicking the landscape       the bitter sea.
?                          Those Babylonians loaded the boat
with gold and silver, and whatever
?                         rounded up with minimal effort,


?           then pushed on    to a mountain jagged
as the point of a dagger: Nisir in Kurdistan,
not the Turk’s Ararat.
Gertrude Bell     1911    reported the boat had


?                           run aground
in a bed of scarlet tulips,
?             the planks reused for housing
and souvenir stands,
?             the way
?                         vertiginous spacemen
will mount pop-ups on Mars.

Terese Svoboda’s most recent book of poetry is Professor Harriman’s Steam AirShip. Great American Desert, her second book of stories, will be published in 2019.
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