Posted on

Ark Noon – Chapter 1

and the water and the water and the water and I row through the water and I’m stupid because I row straight into this mess and tangle of thick roots so I’m stuck there for a while trying to free my oar because I’ve dug right into the roots and as I’m yanking my oar out from between tight roots I hear this sound, a sort of shriek, a call, and looking up into the rain, all fat grey clouds spilling buckets of water down, I see this bird and it’s a hawk I think, just hovering over an island, a hillock breaking water, the hillock thick with drooping willows and the hawk cries again, hovering, searching for a scrap of food, a stupid stray and dumb mouse maybe somewhere in the willow mess but the hawk won’t get any, catch any, because there is none, it’s that simple, he can hover there all he wants and swoop down all he wants, like he does now, swoop and then back up into the grey sky and hover some more then down again, crying out, but he’ll find nothing because he’s probably the only something, apart from me that is, for miles around, not until the rain lessens anyway and the water lessens a bit, drops a bit, he’d be best off flying north to where the water always lessens, always drops away from land after rain, where dad says there’s land again, not land like there used to be land but enough of it, more than there’s been for a long time and dad says that in the north there’s real land again, proper land, almost like it was before the rain but not quite and he’s started going on lately, reminiscing or whatever about when the rain first came, how mum was away, how that was why we could never find her, hope to anyway, because she was all the way down south in London, far, far south, and the rain came quickly and I was only a baby then so he waited in our flat for her to come home, that she was getting the last train, but the rain just got so heavy and I was teething, pink cheeked and whingeing, so all night he was soothing me, just watching the rain fall and fall and fall, so in the morning, after he’d finally fallen asleep in the armchair with me in his arms, he’d gone to the window and the water was right up to the window, how we lived on the second floor and I suppose that’s high enough and there was no television or radio or computer or any of that stuff working and it was quiet out, quiet like he’d never known it, quiet like it is now, and still it was raining, raining like the bath of the world, of the sky, had been unplugged, running over, the bath tipped over and after days of me and him stuck there in the flat, me teething badly and dad drinking milk first then pop then whisky because there was nothing else, even though he never drank much then, not like he drinks now, and that’s when the boat went past our window, a priest rowing it and when dad got the priest’s attention he lowered me down to the boat in a box that the priest said was an ark and it was still quiet, more quiet than it is now maybe, now the hawk has realised how useless his diving and rising and diving is and I’ve stopped pulling on the oar, so I’m just staring at the hawk, watching him hover and listening to the rain fall on the water, hammer on the water, and then there’s another sound, louder than the rain, not the hawk crying or the rain or my oar or the water or my breathing but a crack, a shot, a gun firing and then another crack and I pull hard on the oar, snap a root and look up but the hawk has long gone and I think go north,  go north, go north to where there’s less water, where it’s lessening at last and I start rowing, proper hectic at first, because there’s another crack and I know it’s not good, not right, and I’m rowing through the overhanging willows when I see them, they’re out there on a boat, one bigger than I’ve ever seen and I know it straight away, they’re Wavers, and they’d kill me without thinking if they saw me so I stay in the willow cover and watch the Wavers and know they can’t see me and they’re on deck and one of them, a tall one with long black hair tied back, is firing a gun, crack, crack, crack, but he’s shooting nothing, just firing off the side of the boat into the water and the rain and I think maybe he might he might be trying to catch fish, catch fish like someone who’ll never catch a fish, who never has caught a fish and I watch as  he keeps firing, crack, crack, crack and I stay dead still, silent, don’t dare to breathe even and after a while the boat starts moving south, south to where mum was and the rain gets heavier like it always does towards evening and the sun is sinking into the water and when I think they’re far enough away, that they couldn’t possibly hear me and I can barely see him standing there on the deck, not shooting anymore just standing, I paddle back the way I came as slow as I’ve ever paddled and though there’s no way they could hear me it’s only when I’m out of the willow mess and past the roots that had me stuck that I proper row, hard and for home and I know dad will be sat there in the kitchen still, just like he was when I left, with his broken radio, not fixing it but staring at it as if he’s trying to understand how to fix it, how it works, how it could ever have worked or been understood, but really it’s just a load of useless pieces spread out over the table and he’ll be looking at the clock now and again, wondering where I am with the fish I’m meant to be catching, the two tiny fish, trout I think, that are barely enough for one let alone the three of us, but I row on, rain soaked and trying not to think of Sarah Penny because she’s there in my head again now I’m rowing home like she’s been there for days now and there’s that thought again, that I’m seeing her tomorrow and I push her away, push the Wavers away too, not think how they shouldn’t be here, not so close to us, how dad reckons he saw them once but that was way to the west where the sea meets the water, but I push the Wavers out of my head, their crack, crack, crack shots and I row through the heaviest rain we’ve had for weeks, rain that’s a heavy veil, a thick curtain dropped over the world and it’s so heavy that I can’t really see where I’m rowing but I know, I know the way blind, so when my oar hits mud and I can smell burning wood, singed wood, a fire just doused by rain, I know I’m home


About michaeleganpoetry

Liverpool based poet and editor. I have had four pamphlets of poetry published, most recently After Stikklestad (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2010). Penned in the Margins published my first collection, Steak & Stations, in 2010.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s