Noah's Daughters

by Virginia Mohlere

Two of every kind went in the door --
seven of the clean beasts
our mother
our brothers and their wives.
"Fetch the cooking pots,"
our father said to us,
clouds roiling
wind high.

From the front of our house
we saw him close the door.
The two of our kind left
We ran.
We hit the door with our fists.
As the wind turned colder,
we hit the door
and called our father.
As the sky blackened
we hit the door
and cried for our mother.
As the rain came
we hit the door
and called our father's God.
We got no answer.

Water covered our feet
and the heavens were silent.
Water covered our sex
and we cursed the silent god.
Water covered our breasts
and we cursed our mother's womb.
When the water covered our mouths
we clung together
for the only bit of comfort
in the world.
When our hair floated behind us,
when tears were lost in all that
deadly sweet water -- there was an answer.

The lady of nightmares
came to us
opened her arms,
and in her embrace
water became like air.
Our blood stopped pounding.
We closed our eyes.
We felt warmth
and our shudders stilled.

Our father's boat lifted from the ground:
we perched in the arms of Lilitu,
sat in the crook of her elbow
as our father's boat drifted
animals screaming inside
hooves scraping
bodies thumping.
Oh, through the wood we heard it,
our brothers retching,
our mother sobbing.
We sat in the arms of the demon
our mother threatened would eat us
if we spoke out of turn,
failed to sweep the stoop,
uncovered our hair.
We smiled at one another.
My sister's neck was ruffled and delicate.
I lifted my hand: so was mine.

The lady of the waters
flung us outward
and water rushed over our legs
rushed between our legs
rushed through our legs
until they fused,
flaring at the ends.
My sister and I grasped hands.
We laughed
and kicked hard,
speeding past our father's boat
away from its cries and creaking.

In our drowned house
we sat on drowned chairs
and grinned at one another.
We bowed to the shadow
that covered the door.
For long and long it rained,
and on the boat
the animals moaned
the timbers moaned
our brothers moaned
and our mother sat silent.
We put our heads above the waves
and drank the rain
that meant to kill us.
We held our hands out
to our father's raven
snatched it from the air
drowned it
tied its feathers in our hair.

We saw the boat run aground
on the mountain,
saw the toddling pale things
we used to call family
fall out of the door
that barred us.
Saw them fall to their knees
and retch again.
Saw our mother stare at our father
and hate.
We waved to her
but she did not see.
We held one another's hands
and sank away
from sunshine,
to where the water is salt and dark:
where we can see wonders,
where pressure is an embrace around us
and leviathans sing.

Virginia Mohlere lives in southeast Texas with a surfer muse, a bean-eating cat, occasional Wicked Stepchildren, and badly organized piles of paper. The ink staining her fingers is peacock blue. Neither the snakes nor the lizards in her yard are bothersome, but she has a mortal dread of tree roaches. Her work has been seen in Cabinet des Fées, Fickle Muses, Mythic Delirium, and MungBeing. Her favorite fruit is dried pineapple. No, grilled! No, dried!

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