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68 The Landing harry newman after the rain after the water subsided after landfall when they stepped from the ship leading each other one by one stiff-legged and squinting onto the barren reaches of Ararat how the air hurt as they breathed it their senses dulled by stench and confinement when the ordeal was over the passage passed when the voices finally stopped and there were no more commands to follow when it was just himself to answer for after they looked around and saw everything gone the place they’d left to save in ruins washed clean even the last remnants of trees like bare branches stripped of their bark and blanched when there was nothing but echoes and stones and in the distance bodies everywhere bodies in great piles bloated and rotting across the valleys below them this wasn’t what they expected for their troubles what he’d imagined month after month on the scaffold to start again the beginning of a second garden when that dream of renewal ended when they were tearing apart the ark for firewood and eating the animals they could catch 69 those that hadn’t gone far enough from the hold after coming ashore when all they had were scraps pages of books empty jars for olive oil a child’s toy boat made of reed useless things they picked up as they floated by when there was nothing to do when the dark filled their eyes when they grew cold was there any doubt did anyone wonder what the point had been how they could have come so far only to be abandoned ...


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