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.


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...

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!