Scene of the Flood

A Poem About A Painting

Feet set and dry, at least it can be said,
Yet now the water’s rising, full of dead.
This far she’s climbed, she’s raised her family
Above the gnashing flood come suddenly.
The husband who would lift her up, he bears
Across his back the weight of works of years
And for support the branch he’s firm attached
Resounds its grief and cackles as it cracks.
And worse, her charges, all she’s ever owned,
Two babes, a son, and yet a bigger son,
Are thrashing at her neck and on her breast;
Writhe upward, nipping skin, and rip her vest.

The hand that saves her might need saving too,
The things she must protect would drag her down
Feet set, the rock is wet now, draining through,
She can’t give up herself, or all will drown.


Parenthood is wild. One minute you're doing fine; kids love you, everyone is fed and happy. Then, what happens? The sky opens up and you barely have time to round up your family, your paralyzed father-in-law, and three vivid curtains before you have to scale a nearby cliff just to get away from it all.

Girodet, the artist who painted this, said it's not a depiction of the Biblical Flood. It's not Aeneas or Gilgamesh or anything. It's just A Flood. These people are all of us when the pressure is on.

So, anyway, Happy Monday!

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Thanks for reading.

This is Phil


Image: Scene of the Flood by Anne-Louis Girodet