After the Flood

by Jessica Jacobs

Across the evergreen field
of the felt-topped basement table,
God, alone, deals another hand.

The tang of new paint veils the brown
bullseye of water stains but not the funk
of mildew. How quiet the house is
empty. And Solitaire is less play than lonely
puzzle, a time-passing contest of dealer
versus deck: no matter how you wish
the cards, you take them as they are,
which is why this game’s other name
is Patience.

Just past the ground-level windows, sprinklers
hiss, stuttering counterfeit rainbows.

One turn begats another, each of us arranged
by suit and rank, however we might fight
our fates. Or rail against that bad faith covenant:
no more floods, but, sure, why not? to pandemics
and mass extinctions. Because Lord knows

there’s more than one way to go under.
When all you’ve created is far from how you’d
planned, that surge and relief at disappointment’s
release—little images of God, we
understand, and dread the great arm’s volatile
flash, dashing us all

from the table. For it’s always the same
dealer, always the same self-
dealing. And trust, after betrayal, is not belief
but hope—a feeling without foundation.

Last updated January 29, 2024