Flood

Joshua Rivkin

How to measure a landscape from within its grid? The world is accordion and unfair. Our houses grow smaller in winter and expand in summer, joints stretched until they sigh and settle; then tighten,

wrenched down by invisible tourniquets of cold. My father, too, grows smaller every year, just as his father did and I will. Bones like lost hours. Scrolls of instruction wrapped too tight to read.

In the old world a man measured the earth by his body, which was helpful for knowing how much space was his and how much belonged to God.

A cubit was the distance from palm to elbow. Arm by arm, a man might know how big a rowboat he’d need in a flood. The craft smaller and smaller each season until it holds no passengers, his palms closed into a ship.

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