The Hebrew תֵבָה (tayva), normally translated as ark, can mean container, box, and, also, word. א. When Noah was still just a man, not yet sailor and savior, God said, “Make yourself a word, for I have decided to silence all flesh.” Scraping muscle from a hide, his wife crouched nearby, listening. Without argument or question, without a single signal of warning to neighbors or friends, her husband—that little wind-up toy, God’s docile errand boy—complied. He built the word to spec: big enough to hold two of every creature, but too small for her mother, too small for her brother, no matter how she begged. ב. From planks of gopher wood smeared with pitch, Noah built the word and God shut them up in it. Water crushed down from the sky, fountained from the seas, dissolving living dust and breath to reefs of hushed mud. And Noah: a silent man in a wooden word drifting the silenced world. ג. With an otter placid as a stole across his shoulders, instead of talking, he lived in his hands, picking nits; troughing food and water, always more water; tending, tending to every walking, creeping, winged thing, to all beings but her—never lying beside her, never tasting the taste of sleep, his tongue withered to a husk. The dark hold was mobbed with chitter, roar, and screech without restraint, and from outside, the ceaseless babble of wood and rain. She was drowning in languages she couldn’t speak, and he never offered her a word of comfort. ד. When the rains finally ended, Noah bound a rope to the rafters. Before the raven, before the doves, he lowered himself from the word’s one window. A splash, and he leashed the rope to his ankle; leaned back and let his hands fall empty, let the flood embrace him. Grime sloughed from him into the waves until the only animal he smelled was himself. Noah bobbed there, a beaming buoy, tethered to the word in which the future floated, where his wife, unseen—the new Eve, humanity’s unnamed mother—looked out from the window and watched as he gave himself to the killing waters; looked past him, trying not to think of the death and rot that brothed him. ה. Is a man good, she wondered, who can construct a word large enough for only a chosen few? ו. And now, regardless of any covenant that once rainbowed the sky, before the world is again silenced—the water and weather already rising— what noun collective, what peaceful fleet lashed by syntax and spring lines into a sentence of survival, what new words can we build to save us all?