Noah’s Notes (Preliminary)

by Penelope Shuttle

There’s meaning in the various colours of doves.
The blood of a he-goat is so hot it can dissolve diamonds.

The spider is an aerial worm that feeds on air.
A drink made from the tears of a stag cures heartache.

Bees are the very smallest of birds, born from the bodies of oxen.
The cat is a shadow animal, the Bible has never believed in cats.

The eagle will not converse with falconers
but a she-wolf will take communion from a priest.

The blue-eyed phoenix lives on a diet of dragons.
Hunting dogs are just as beautiful as the tallest medieval horses, the destriers,

or the soul when it is first spied as some tiny thing, a maggot or a grub.
When the starling speaks in French, you must listen.

The hare may not always be a Christian.
The moth found on a young boy’s kimono sleeve brings sorrow.

Hawks stare at one another without moving their eyes;
this is how their young are conceived.

The dragon-fly never stops working on the twelve volumes of his memoirs.
The pig takes mercy on the vineyard, and is the world’s best wet-nurse.

The he-wolf must be tricked into sleep, then bound
with a rope made from the sound of an ant’s footfall,

the breath of a fish and the spittle of a bird.
The snake is the best doll-maker you could ever wish for.

The elephant! He takes up so much room, he won’t tolerate the crocodile.
He’s so wise, how can I forbid him?

The three-toed sloth is nothing but a bundle of leaves,
and so is the brown-throated sloth.

With her iron jaw and massive clitoris,
the beauteous hyena is no more and no less than a Queen.

The lion is the strangest of messengers, with his Tsar’s face, the chakra of his tail.
Give him your full compliance.

The swan bids the rain leave off with a swirl of her meekly-shaped wings.
The oriole is an unimportant bird, but proud as a hornet.

The winter-sleeper ignores the moon, and the two little toads.
Only the mouse comes in with the blessing of God.