It swelled in the telling, like the belly
of a cow with calf. It became exact
as a suit tailored to the torso of a judge.
Hewn, supposedly, from gopher wood,
name for who knows what. Actually,
he used what he had. Boards scavenged
from sheep pen or pried from a fence.
Somehow his walls slouched but did
not quite fall down. Meantime no matter
how the story goes, his wife and sons
were not on board with his fixation.
Neighbors spat and jeered. Who wants
to cheer for doom? And so he worked
all by himself against extinction, took
anything with fur and feathers in,
losing a lot of them in working out
who went next to whom, how tight
to cram them in. Also how few
of each he could get away with.
It wasn’t two. There were so many
mysteries he never did get right,
including what ate what ate what,
and how much almost everything
hung on everything else. Etcetera.
He broke every rule except the one.
Which is to care, no matter how far
over your head you are about to be.
Never mind if you can’t even swim.


Click here to read Kristin Camitta Zimet on the origin of the poem.

Image: Neck and Neck by Andrew, licensed under CC 2.0.

Kristin Camitta Zimet: I’ve written several poems about the Ark. For me, it speaks about including and belonging. Who gets saved? Whose job is it to save?

I desperately love Earth and her intricate fabric of living beings. I do a lot of citizen science. I am active in groups and projects that support native plants and animals. Nobody might ever know enough to get this work completely right, but we had better hurry. As a poet, in choosing what to write about and how, I also save what I can. I’m Noah.

Humans are really bad at remembering. We depend on unreliable stories. We distort and mythologize and simplify the past, personal and collective. If we don’t remember well, who are we, who are these others around us, and how do we go onward together? As a poet, I make vessels of remembrance. Noah, again.

There is a lot of irony in this. All the time I create I’m also crossing out. I make things up in order to get at what is true. I mix parts of my own vocal range with the seemingly channeled voices of others who are or were or could be. In this poem’s version of Noah, I am part passionate believer and part ruthless realist.

I’m scrounging hope and holy purpose from a mess of misunderstandings and crises. I’m using language, a material that is loaded with judgments and losses. Word by word, using what’s at hand, I cobble a joinery, in which each part of the represented world and each part of the poem might support each other part. I try to enclose truth, that complex menagerie, and do my bit to keep it all afloat.

Kristin Camitta Zimet
Latest posts by Kristin Camitta Zimet (see all)
  • Ark - September 1, 2023


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