Noah’s Wife by Marianne Kunkel

But with thee I will establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee.—Genesis 6:18

Butter knife still clenched in one hand,
she presses her other palm
into a sandwich made of Wonder bread.
Red jelly oozes out onto the counter.
She knows if she doesn’t clean it
before her short march to the lawn
where, matted with sweat, lips pinching drill bits,
her husband and three sons circle God’s biggest billboard,
a steel ship, and are hungry, it will stain.

But she snatches the sandwiches,
bagged chips and sodas, and hurries
to slip her feet into beat-up shoes.
Outside, the clamor she’s used to
is deafening, and every piece of blue sky
shrinks from steel plates sharp as scissor blades.
His knees stiff, her youngest son Ham
walks to her. His hair is dark and long,
but ever since the freckled girl, his first prom date,
left the neighborhood, he’s refused to have it cut.

Sitting to eat, their bodies dot the grass.
Her husband gruffly hums while he chews,
a habit she once spanked her small sons
for making fun of. Now she sees
how frail he is in his loose jeans, his teeth yellowed
and chin receding. Centuries back,
he’d asked to sneak into her dorm, his hands
were firm, and she’d sighed, I could die of happiness.

Image by: Jon McGovern