Poetry, Grades 7 – 9: First Place

Home of the Fencers — Solomon Polansky

“Ha! A flood. It’s not possible in the hands of all our gods. Those Jews think they’re so special worshipping one god who’s better than all the rest of them. Their god is a fake. How would one god be superior to all the other ones and be able to make a flood over all of the earth? What about all of us? Their so-called god wouldn’t hurt innocent human beings regardless of their beliefs. A flood? Whatever.” That’s what I told Esme (my mother) when she told me that she and Brydan (my father) were going to Egypt. And now, I’m glad I said that because you and your twin lived on.

It was always harder for me when we were little. It was always “Primrose this,” and “Primrose that.” Just because I was the oldest I always got more work. I cooked dinner every night, and I cleaned your bedroom and the cook room. Don’t even get me started on you boys. You and Quinn got to run around all day with wooden swords that I had to carve for you. You didn’t even make your own beds. I did that. The only thing our parents did was get you dressed, but, of course, that doesn’t matter anymore. It’s been raining for days and there’s more than a foot of water outside. That Noah guy wasn’t lying. His god wasn’t as powerless as I thought.

The water was up to two cubits when they left. I don’t know how much longer this flood will go on. It’s been five days already. Esme thought we should go down to Egypt but I refused. I didn’t want to go down to Egypt to become a mummy. Not that they cared what I thought. They never even wanted kids, so they left. If I wouldn’t leave, they would, and they’d give me you and your brother, Quinn, as if I didn’t have enough things to worry about. I was just 15 and you were both four. I could barely manage myself, much less two little kids.

I made a clear decision: I’m taking you to the place that I know is safe. The ark. Noah built it because he knew that this was coming. We weren’t invited on but we didn’t have to be. We could be attached to the side. The hard part was getting there. There wasn’t enough water to lift the ark yet, but I knew that in just days there would be. I told you that we were going to go on an adventure and I put some food and a water purifier in a bag. I tied a rope to each of your hands, then to my own wrist. Then I slung the straw bag over my shoulder and lifted you both into my arms. The moment our door shut, it was clear that we could not go back.

You and your brother sang and played while I trudged through the water, trying not to yell at you. After hours of slowly moving through the rain we saw the ark. For a moment you went silent in awe. Then you were scared. I tried to set you in the shallow water, but you both screamed and kicked. You didn’t understand that this would be your new home.

I finally settled you down and, with you on my shoulders, I started climbing the ark. This thing was huge. It must have been at least 300 cubits long! When we got high enough, I set Quinn in the straw bag, untied his rope, strung it through the boat, and retied it to his tiny hand. Then I took him out and put you in the bag. I strung your rope through the boat and then I untied my rope. That took about half an hour because not only did I have to hold on to you, I had to hold on to the boat. I finally tied all three ropes to the ark and you guys fell asleep. This would be a long trip.

You both had grown up so much. You fed yourself, Owen. You were a climber. It was hard to take care of you because you were always 10 meters above. You could even retie the ropes on your hand to the boat. You wouldn’t fall. You couldn’t because you were a natural. As for Quinn, well, he’s a swimmer. He took the long rope that we had and tied that to the boat and just swam away. He scared me to death. He had been doing that for at least 15 days. We’d been there for 27. I remember hoping that the flood would stop then. We had maybe seven days of food left, but I feared that it would still be raining when we were completely out of food.

I remember one day quite clearly, Owen. You were five meters up, and Quinn was swimming. He was adorable. He splashed and dived. He even brought out the small water purifier and filled it for me. There were sharks in that water. That’s what scared me. If he had been eaten by a shark, I’d never forgive myself. You would have been forever traumatized, and Quinn would be gone. I hoped that we would not be that unlucky. I guess that all of the people in the world, including our parents, are dead by now. I told you, Esme.

The rain stopped! After 35 days of horrible rain and running out of food, it was almost over. There was even a little bird flying around now. Quinn wasn’t allowed to swim anymore, because the sharks got more crowded into one area. We’d made it so far, I wouldn’t be able to handle him getting hurt now. You weren’t allowed to climb either.

Without the heavy noise of rain, we could have been discovered and killed. Noah kept looking over the edge, down into the new sea, as if he was waiting for something. I remember wondering why he cared if the water went down. He was on a nice boat with tons of food on it. He would be fine for months.

The water was going down and you boys were getting anxious. There were probably about 1,200 cubits of water there, and it didn’t look like we were going anywhere for a while. You wanted to play, like all little boys, but I didn’t want you to because you could get hurt or get us discovered. I didn’t know what we were going to do on land. All of the huts would be gone, but you’d help me build a new hut, far from Noah and his family. I guessed we’d just live there for a while. The animals would run off and that would be our food, and we’d live.

Well, Owen, you’ve always been a sweet little boy and now you and your brother are big, grown men. You can handle yourself, and when I die, I know you’ll be safe. You asked me to write you a story, in my final days, and this is what I came up with. This is the beginning of your life without your mom and dad to take care of you.

You can see I hated you and your brother, and you can see how I learned to love you. I’m sorry that I couldn’t have written more, but the bones in my hand are frail, and I’d like to spend my last hours with you, making one or two more memories. Thank you for helping me through these last few years, Owen. You were the perfect child, and now you are the perfect adult. I love you more than you will ever know.

Your sister, Primrose