Sunday, September 14, 2008

Noah Prayer


Ike passed over our house last night, living and oblivious, Texas-sized. Its 800-mile slug trail, once a daunting wall of water at the coast, had since tapered down to ankle deep.

Around midnight, I took off my shoes and stepped out into our backyard, a modern Noah-figure with the sweet calm of deflected responsibility. God never told me to build no ark; if he did I wasn't listening.

I'd gone outside with lesser objectives -- namely, to investigate one particular drip, pounding just outside our back porch door. Most drips are quaint; the recognize their place as one among billions. This one was clearly malevolent.

Sure enough, where the porch overhang meets the compound asbestos, a steady trickle of water was weaseling through; already the wood over our doorway is rotting. I should've taken a picture of the giant wolf spider, holding its ground on the pucker-painted rot, or the spider-shadow my flashlight made on the door.

After wading around to check out all the more suspect gutters (they were holding up well, I'm thankful to say), I almost stepped on a garter snake who, I assume, had gotten the memo on the Ash Street Ark. Racing by my feet, he zipped up onto our porch, not caring anymore that I was a giant.

Suddenly I could feel the suffocation. Suddenly I realized what Ike had really left behind: an 800-mile trail of desperately drowning ground-dwellers: snakes and worms and groundhogs, bat-blind moles, all of whom were trying to keep their heads above water while Jen and I watched Saturday Night Live lay deliciously into Sarah Palin's snarkiness.

But again, I ain't no Noah, and I ain't no angel host. Looking back now, I wish I'd done differently. I picked up the snake and brought him inside, but more to freak Jen out than to offer asylum to a legless refugee. After getting the desired response from Jen, I dutifully brought the snake back outside. Then, istead of leaving him on the porch like I should have, I tossed him back out into the ankle-deep rain, where he curled up for a moment and then shot off toward other arks.

God forgave Noah. God forgive me.

4 comments:

Peter said...

Really great post!

I can see Noah trying that one with his wife and then throwing out the snake. Who would have first crack at him, the Ms. or God?

Nathan First said...

Peter:
Yeah, sometimes us Noah-folk (and snakes, for that matter) are damned if we do, damned if we don't, eh?

Meanwhile, thanks for the encouragement. I just checked out "Slow Reads", by the way, and am sure I'll be coming back.

Priscilla Gilman said...

Excellent. I'll be back for more. (And you have a Democracy Now link up—yay!)

Nathan First said...

Thanks, Priscilla. Always glad to find another Amy Goodman fan!