THE ARK AUTHORS A CEASE AND DESIST LETTER • by Valli Jo Porter

To the Sorely Mistaken Acquisitions Department of the Big Box Department Store:

A certain line of baby products you are selling has come to my attention, and let me tell you, I am not happy. I have been informed that my likeness is misrepresented all over tiny humans, splashed on their shirts and blankets and burp cloths and things called onesies. Let me list all the ways this is inappropriate:

  1. Since I had my heyday so long ago, I have had quite the difficult time finding representation. The evangelist Ken Ham claims to speak for me, even going as far as building a replica of me in Kentucky, but he gets my story as wrong as you do. I carried no dinosaurs. They were millions of years before my time. But newer ships have corporations and governments and even historical societies to protect their name and their likeness from showing up on every imbecilic, frou frou product humans can dream up. I unfortunately have only Moses (or J, E, P, and D, if you read biblical criticism and want to get pedantic), and they have been silent for about three and a half millennia now.
  2. What could possibly make you think my story is one for children? You have to blow past mind-boggling amounts of death and destruction to arrive at an elephant, giraffe, lion, and tiger smiling beatifically over my rail on these novelty items, rendered in pastel. Let me remind you that mammals are not naturally pastel. Is an elephant the color of an Easter egg? Is a lion the seafoam green of a Tiffany’s bag? The image is a lie. Perhaps if you included the bloated, water-logged corpses and bones of all of the men, women, and children on earth less eight at the bottom of the shirt, you could head in the right direction. Let’s throw in all the carcasses of land-dwelling animals less a copulating pair. Then maybe you could include the animals of the sea, feasting on human flesh. None of these details are baby-friendly. In fact, let me remind you, not a single baby survived the flood. It was a mass infanticide event.
  3. The scale of the images is also problematic: Four little animal heads were not vaguely the same size as my upper deck. A single animal would be but a dot on my broad hull. Think about how large my proportions had to be to contain every species necessary to the ecosystem, plus enough food to sustain life. Noah had to separate the animals he didn’t want to mate or eat each other, and he needed plenty of space for the ones that were reproducing to feed everyone else. My insides brought life, yes, but they were as red in tooth and claw as nature itself. I was a habitat, an asylum, but the giraffe and the lion are not friends. They were never at any point anywhere near each other in my dark, stink-ridden interior.
  4. The Noah peeking out of the window should definitely not be white.
  5. Noah and his sons took a century to build me. I was an engineering feat. Never before had a boat of such proportions been constructed. Even more: I carried the whole of humanity and its animal companions into a denouement that was different from that of the dinosaurs. How my timbers groaned under the weight of the life in my bowels! I saved the world — or, more accurately, everything that matters to you — in it. And yet you have the nerve to depict me as a light puce instead of the proud dark brown of gopher wood.

All of this adds up to far less respect than is due me. Throughout the ages, humans have told the story wrong. Noah the protagonist, God the antagonist. Of those two, who is to be lauded? Noah, who climbs out of my shelter and gets subsequently drunk and naked, making a laughingstock of himself? God, who destroyed the entire world? Neither is the true hero of the story. I AM. I am the vehicle of re-creation. I provided room enough for Noah’s doubts, let alone God’s. I brought salvation. And you have the nerve to print a false, defamatory picture of me on a piece of tiny clothing with snaps at the crotch.

I trust you will cease and desist in selling such pieces of disrepute to adorn small children. I await your apology.

In utmost rancor,
The Ark


Valli Jo Porter earned her MFA from Old Dominion University. She is the recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, and her work has appeared in Gordon Square Review and Literary Mama. She lives outside of Cleveland and at work on a novel.


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