► Play audio

Click the play button below to listen to Wendy Drexler read
“Noah’s Wife.”

Noah, his swelled head, his ego larger than the ark, his crazy
self-promoting savior mania. Because of him we dropped

everything, sank our fortune in cypress wood, and every
filthy creature we couldn’t trap we had to buy with our last coin.

It was hell in there—the boars squalling and farting, ravens
cawing so loud I thought my eardrums would burst. And the snakes.

They terrified me, slithering in their hastily strapped-together cages.
The hippos bellowing and rolling in piss-soaked straw. The rabbits

breeding so fast they began to eat each other. Noah had to grab
my hand to stop me from killing the flies swarming my sweaty neck.

The peacocks dragging their dirty tails. All of us in that squalor,
and the floodwaters brimming with rotting flesh.

I was the one who slopped the decks and mopped and boiled
pots of lentil stew. Noah complained I didn’t put enough

salt on the eggs. As soon as we scraped the mountaintop,
I knew I’d leave him. I fled as fast as the dove he released,

the one that never came back. I guess I owe him for dragging me
away from home. I would have stayed and drowned with our

drunken friends. Instead I’ve spent these last peaceful years
in a small cottage, growing my own onions and flax, gathering

honey, collecting rainwater for my garden in a barrel of leftover
cypress I made with my own two hands.