The bathtub ark was lifted aloft
by the river spreading wide
and growing into sea:
and Aanteekwa could see
no land in sight –
it had been covered by a sea
of someone’s tears.
Aanteekwa first looked for a
large, blonde English moppet
crying for a lost world — but
she was not there.
She then looked for a
vengeful, bearded Canaanite
warrior god of wrath
knocking aside wooden block towers
of human hubris and pissing
on his doomed creation below –
but he was not there (thank God).
When the bathtub boat careened
over a clean-edged break between
water and sky, neither Aanteekwa,
nor her fellow passenger,
nor his doom-dated notebook page,
The water transmuted into
a glass coin, flipping itself
trying to find its own fate.
Through its limpid liquid
she could see a pale lady
whose orange flag of hair unfurled
and waved to signal truces,
a plea for this damned thing to stop! –
but then a giant blue merman,
starry red-shawled and temple-crowned,
picked up the bathtub and let it
rest in his river-run palm while he
stared at its occupants.
Manu? he questioned.
No, I’m Jim, Aanteekwa’s
Well, that would explain
the bathtub, the blue deity said.
Who are you? Aanteekwa asked.
I am Matsya, the blue god replied,
and this is where history and myth collide.
He pointed to the whirlpool forming
in the ocean at his feet.
What’s the difference between
them? Jim asked.
You must decide that, my friend,
Matsya replied, chuckling.
After all, you humans insist
upon both as absolute truth.
© 2014 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.
This poem is the latest in the Aanteekwa series, a continuation from “Flood” and was written for my We Write Poems Prompt this week: Mythology.
I borrowed from the general idea of the flood myth. Many early cultures have some sort of a flood myth, be it the story of Noah, from the epic of Gilgamesh, the Hopi tale of Tawa destroying the third world with a flood, or as this borrows from, the story of Manu and Matsya. Matsya is a anthromorphic Hindu god who is half-man and half-fish, and is the first of the then primary avatars of Vishnu. Matsya warns Manu to construct a large boat, and depending on the story either asks him to store all of the grains of the world in it or these grains plus every animal. Manu follows Mastya’s instructions and is saved, and ends up repopulating the human race after the flood destroys the rest of the earth.
The angry Canaanite deity in the second stanza is Yaweh. Aanteekwa is referring to his earlier Canaanite self before the Israelites evidently adopted him as their national god. And the blond English moppet is, of course, Alice Liddel — the same from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The redhead is Tori Amos, and her cameo in this poem is inspired by this music video of hers.