Noah and Noah and Noah

by Elodie Olson-Coons


            We’d always wondered what would happen to the fish. But in the end, deep in the aether, it was the snow that frightened us most— it clung so fiercely to the inside of the windows, clotting out the light. When we ran out of oxygen, who knew how long we had for thoughts of riots and gas fires, slips and the wetness of lost kisses; the distancing trees that combed the light like lover’s hair?


            She swam through a silt of stars, our ship. Six whole rooms. When the Caspian gulls stopped singing, we no longer dreamed of rain.


            They called her Sputnik. They called her Arcane. So what if we sometimes drank our way out of paralysis? So what if our lists were short? We were over that fucking moon, fucking over the sofa in that tin-and-crystal room. We buttoned lace and brambles, packed our leathered books of poetry. We would drink the liquor first, we reasoned; melt the hydrogen for tea.


            She clambered through the satellites.

            ‘Take two of each,’ they said. ‘You have six whole rooms.’  


            All the things we should have done— skinned jackals for meatloaf, drunk cold milk with whores in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico… They watched us rocket from our rocking-chairs, shrinking and shrinking in the still night air.

            They burned their retinas.


            One artificial degree of snow lay in the silver twist of the airlocks; sat in the cleft of a dying hoof. The aquariums were deep and still. Of course the only blades we have are our fingerbones. But there were six whole rooms. Even if the windows were thickening with grime. Even if things would start to crack before we got there.


            Conquistadores,’ they wrote, but we were martyrs. We knew. Soon, the howling and the clawing slowed. The weightless aura grew.


            Below, smoke trailed from the treetops like a long sip of bourbon. Gravity tipped and spilled. We forgot he was a wargod: all at once we were down to deer bones, catgut, those owl-horn plumes. Flammulated, variegated, and now very, very quiet aren’t they.


            Silence slunk down to the white catacombs like something old, something old. Those poor frightened moons! What were we supposed to save? Moss spores, blood vials, beehives. (Oxygen, chloroform, breadknives.) Soon, there will be nothing left. A grime of scales on a dry towel. One more vinyl of a wolf howl.


            Shit, all the shit, you wouldn’t believe

            The last ants go marching across our knucklebones, already unfamiliar as flecks of cut glass. Meanwhile, the wildcats gnawed at the telescopes. They frayed our cotton into nests.


            Six rooms wracked with seaweed, filled with cages of dust and brackish snow; and still outside the quantum dark, and still the lumps of matted feather blow along the ventilators. Such lovely, lovely tombs.

            They say there’s ice

            to whittle beneath.

            Whistle: little whiskey / a little

            iron oxide in my bowl.


            Poor basket smeared with cypress pitch; poor firmament of beaten metal. Who now knows our albedo, our electromagnetic spectra? We are the premonition and its aftermath: exoskeletons, geodes, stacks of driftwood. Something ruffled at the jawline, something feral, something terribly askew.



            They won’t wait for our broadcasts, down on Long-Forgotten Road; their skeletons blackening. The disintegration will not be shown. We each have one shot left: one birthday cake, one baby’s bum, one nipple slipping from a corset like the rising sun.


            At dawn we fingercock a long-lost pistol. The stars are flickering and heavy. We rarely sleep; we no longer open doors. Oh, hear the goshawk; crack the small bones of our wrists! We lay our irradiated fists flat on the windows; stare down at the waning moons.


            We breathe shallow. We watch our mental sketches flake, marvel as they deteriorate. We gut the last fox, grind down the last stones. On the floor a pencilled map, a littering of bones.