wordsout by godfrey rust
The sailing of the ark  < 13 of 45


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

or seven by seven depending on which source takes
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 as a defining image for the abandonment of a literalist 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.