J. A. Tyler

Noah Remembering the Things He Doesn't

Noah sees himself as a child and the child is one of those children violent and swinging from branches and this is when there was sun if there ever was sun because Noah’s memory is clouded with images. Noah’s memory is a gravestone in a cemetery where a pick-up has backed onto the head and now the stone is halved and what is underneath is no longer a body but remembering how bodies used to be. When Noah was a child the children were all about decapitation and sorrow. When Noah was a child there was rain unstoppered from that liquored-up sky. When Noah was a child there was no ark, because Noah had not yet built it.

Noah has no sister and this is why: To make a sister take parents in rows of two and put them together facing one another and move them up and down and wait for all the other moments in the world to happen. To make a sister crush her like a sandwich where one thing goes on the top of another on top of another on top of another. To make a sister exhaust all the boys with running or monkey bars then wait an eternity for the movement of the world to slow. This is why Noah has no sister. Noah has no sister because of these and all the other things.

Noah is a man who is building an ark. Noah’s muscles are hammers and Noah’s mouth is nails spit out. The rain is coming down. When Noah is out and up on the ark that is half-built, the rain is happening and in it he hears himself telling himself to build an ark. In this way it doesn’t come from any god or from the sky or opened up out of his own mouth but instead from the rain and the way it falls on his partially constructed deck. Noah’s eyes are saws that trim stolen and found wood to length. Noah is a man because he is building an ark or in spite of this ark building. Noah is a man because the rain is coming down and there is no one else for it to come down upon.

Noah has in his half-built ark a garden that will house plants already soaking up the water though they are only seeds and are showing no green. All the green that was leaves has turned gray via missiles, has turned gray via screaming, has turned gray with all the violent moments that were threaded together to make Noah’s neighborhood a firestorm, to make Noah’s house an only image, to make Noah a man building an ark in the rain with a garden by himself. The seeds that Noah plants are children. The seeds that Noah plants are sisters. The seeds that Noah plants are men and memories. Women. The seeds that Noah plants in his garden on this incomplete ark are nails and hammers and saws. Muscles and memories and images. The seeds that Noah plants will always be drowning in coming-down rain. Noah makes a garden, Noah builds an ark. These will be Noah’s new memories, even in this rain.

J. A. Tyler’s most recent novel Girl With Oars & Man Dying is available now from Aqueous Books. For more, visit:

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