wordsout by Godfrey Rust                                       The sailing of the ark  13 of 45  HOME  



13

The ark sailed sometime in the 1980s.
The animals went in two by two 

or seven by seven depending on which source takes precedence:
its motley cargo—Jonah's fish, Job's friends, 

eight-foot Goliath, Balaam's talking ass,
limping Jacob, branded Cain, the subtil snake, even 

the primal pair themselves, naked and unashamed—
all herded in with Noah and his sons. 

That clear blue evangelical assurance
clouded over with the cumulus 

of archaeology and reasoned common sense
in ever-darkening folds; beneath its weight 

the heavens bowed. The muddy deluge broke. The ark
sailed out of history and into myth.


The first turning point of the sequence:  the ark’s departure becomes the defining image for the abandonment of a literalistic faith.

two by two cf Genesis 7:8.

seven by seven cf Genesis 7:2. The inconsistencies of the Flood stories seem most readily explained by the existence of two separate versions edited together. There are, of course, conflicting views about this.

subtil The King James Version’s adjective to describe the serpent in Eden.

into myth "Myth" is not used dismissively (as “something untrue”), but with its more potent meaning of a story that contains profound truth regardless of its historic status.