Noah Plants a Vineyard

On the heels of the flood
in a soggy field,
Noah is putting in a garden,
the only one,
for the rain swallowed all the men and corn.
He sets out the grapevines,
worrying about the next hundred years:
How can he be righteous with no one looking on
to rib and raise Cain at his ark?
Can he plant rows of peace
in a world empty but for the wife and boys?
Indeed, it depresses him to think of Zilbar
and Hesh back home sitting at the bottom of the ocean
while he rakes dirt and hears no laughing,
no voice at all.
The truth is, and he hopes God can’t read his mind,
he loathes paradise. He misses the old violence,
the lurking and lust. Better blood crying from the ground
than scenery. Better the wars of flesh
that would set him brawling with God
until he came up howling from the dust
half eaten and deliriously holy.
Let them scoff, he would say.
Who has seen Jehovah and lived?
But now Jehovah hides like the coney while Noah paces
back and forth at daybreak back and forth before his tent
under a sky rinsed with purple that no one in the world sees
but him. And the seed inside, the hidden black seed of his heart
is stirring on this day of planting, drawn by the light
of some terrible, distant fire.

(in What a Light Thing, This Stone)

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