Rising / Holly Day

By the fifth day, the water was so high
that the boats were ripped from their harbors
tossed upside down by the accompanying waves.
Some of the large boats stayed afloat for a little while
but in the end, only the ark Noah built was large enough
to stay afloat. Each new day, more bodies floated by the bow,
most dead, slowly bloating in the cold water, nibbled on by fish
but some were still alive, mothers and fathers
and older children, clinging to uprooted tree trunks with one hand,
trying to hold up the head of a struggling child or an elderly parent
with the other.

They don’t talk about how the sea must have been filled
with floating corpses, because drowning bodies don’t sink.
There must have been so many dead animals and people
that it would have appeared possible to walk right across the corpses
to find land, or at least straddle a floating body, like a raft
if one needed to escape the confines of the ark
for a few moments of quiet reflection.

By day 40, the fish and the sharks would have made short work
of most of the bodies, the scavengers
would have moved into the ruins of Sodom and Gomorra, Ur,
other ancient cities of the Bible lost to history.
Sea crabs would have scuttled through the ancient streets
like gigantic spiders, climbing into any earthbound trees
to pull down the remains of cats and dogs and horses and people
caught in the branches, trapped forever
in their search for higher ground. 

Holly Day has been a writing instructor at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review, and hernewest poetry collections are Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing), Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), and The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body (Anaphora Literary Press).

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