RUFFIN IT: HERE’S TO NOAH, BLESS HIS ARK, PART II
If you recall, last week I told y’all about the photograph one of our Mars rovers snapped up there (or over there, wherever) while a couple of them were prowling around for soil and rock samples to bring back: I mean the shot of what appears to be an ark.
Professor Ernest Breakley, an astronomer, noted that an “on board alpha proton X-ray spectrometer” analyzed it and “determined conclusively that it is made of wood.” He did not go into detail about the particular kind of wood, but I just figure it was made out of Marpher Wood, the Martian equivalent of gopher wood (or bois d’arc, if you want to get technical). It doesn’t really matter, I suppose, the wonder being that an ark made out of any kind of wood should be on Mars.
Well, speculation (educated and otherwise) holds that the planet was ravaged by a tremendous flood (and do recall that there is evidence that once there was water on the surface of Mars) at some point, and Noah and his family built to ark to keep at least his family alive. Since the measurements of the Marzark, as I prefer to call it, are roughly the same that those of the one in the Good Book, we must theorize that he also rounded up a whole lot more than family or took onboard some Marzanimals.
After the waters receded and Noah judged the place unsuited to his future plans, it is surmised (again, by some degreed authorities) that he designed and built a space ship of some sort that could transport him and at least part of his brood to Earth. I cannot imagine that he had to turn away anyone attempting to board. I mean, it’s one thing to clamber on an ark, with water lapping at your heels, quite another to slip into a little ol’ spaceship, whatever it was made of and looked like. I know from experience that bois d’arc is tough, but I don’t think that it could stand up to the trip. Our authorities have carefully skirted the issue of propulsion and availability of oxygen and all. But these were probably minor issues for ol’ Noah, wise as he was.
However it happened, Noah brought at least part of his family to Earth, and they started over.
Skipping on a bit, we all know that eventually Noah and the thunder squared off again, and he knuckled and built another ark to save his family and a pair of every kind of animal on earth. (It is doubted that he had room on the spaceship to bring in Marzanimals with him, so these would have been regular animals, the kind you might see roaming around or in zoos.
There seems to be little contention over the size of—and materials used to construct—the new ark. It was gopher wood all the way.
In my new book of stories, “The Day the Waters Rose” and Stories of the Gulf Coast (due out from the University of South Carolina Press late this year), I allow the Noah story to be told through the eyes of one of the rednecks who conspire to take over the ark. Yes, there were rednecks there and then. There have always been (and always will be) rednecks. Count on it.
At one point, my narrator is crouched in the bushes watching and listening to Noah just after he’s busted his thumb with a hammer.
“Then he [Noah] turned his face up to the sky and yelled out, ‘Why have I got to use gopher wood, Lord? Why the hell–how come I can’t use something softer, something that you can drive a damn–something you can drive a nail thoo without busting your hammer and thumb and without using a thousand strokes to finish the job? It’s enough to make the most devout man cuss!’
“Didn’t nobody laugh. I guess when a 600-year-old man that has the inside scoop from God about a coming disaster loses his cool, you just take it in stride. But he wasn’t finished.
“‘And why in the hell–why have we got to measure all this stuff out in cubits, which ain’t the way our rulers are calibrated? That stuff went out over 200 years ago. Cubit, my butt. They teachin’ different stuff in the schools these days, but nawwwwww–You gotta make me use cubits on this d-d-d . . . on this boat.
“‘Why me, Lord, what have I ever done? I ain’t responsible for the heatherns on this Earth, and I don’t think it’s fair for You to lay all this on me. I got eighteen boys working for me, and all of’m together ain’t got sense enough to pour pee out of a wine jug, with the directions wrote on the bottom, or build a sheep shed or donkey cart, much less build a boat big enough for all them animals.
“‘And how, by the way, am I gon’ be able to round all of’m up, them animals? Some live thousands of miles from here, and I am 600 years old and can’t walk that far, much less herd a bunch of animals–even a turtle can outrun me. Ain’t got enough family to do it neither.
“‘And how am I gon’ pair’m up? Donkeys and goats and camels I got no trouble with, but how about snakes and armadillos and ants and stuff like that? How I’mon sex’m, Lord? If there ain’t no equipment down there, how I’mon know? Muskeeters? Lizards? Turtles? Ants? I just don’t know enough about their equipment to know how to pair’m up. I might screw up and ruin their chances down the line, Lord. It’s a heavy burden.
“‘And, Lord, ain’t nobody outside the family takin’ me serious.’”
But then ol’ Noah turned around and went back to work on the ark. If you want to know the rest of this story, you’ll have to read the version in my book.
By the way, the next time you are annoyed by ants or mosquitoes or roaches or armadillos or lovebugs, just remember that there’s only one person to blame, and it’s not God. It’s Noah. A few stomps of his foot or smacks of his hands . . . . He should have drawn the line somewhere, but he didn’t. He should have, but he didn’t.