Disaster Practice

How ludicrous
to practice for an earthquake!
If anything could cause the gods and devils
to erupt in a belly laugh,
causing the very mountains to crease in smiles,
surely an earthquake drill would do it.
Yet tomorrow,
April 17th,
Salt Lake City rehearses an earthquake.
Apart from the folly of it all,
did anyone think how the Japanese would react?
Do the fifty-plus Japanese students in our language center
really need to relive this experience?
Their nation has not yet recovered from last year’s quake;
there are thousands and thousands still living in temporary shelters.
How about the Chileans?
How about San Franciscans?
The survivors of earthquakes will be the first to tell you:
There is nothing you can do when one strikes.
It’s not called a ‘natural disaster’ for nothing;
when you live on a fault line,
earthquakes are the most natural thing in the world.
Committees and such
have tried to make sure the disabled
(um…apparently, a party of one: me)
can get out of the building tomorrow, but
no one is willing to carry me down the stairs—
and then the half-mile to the meeting point.
Sure, it’s only a drill.
At 10:15, in our classrooms, we’re supposed to stop,
drop, and cover our heads with our arms.
Thank you, but no.
If I drop, I stop—
no crouch potato, me.
I’m messing up their disaster plans
by not agreeing to them,
but I can’t help but think that drills
like the Great Shake-Out
(oh, yes! it’s got advertising!)
court disaster,
invite it in.
“We’re ready! See? We’ve had a drill and everything!”
The long-overdue quake, when it happens,
will swallow Salt Lake in a matter of seconds.
We’ll drop so fast there won’t be time for crouching,
for running to meeting places a half-mile away;
no time to even bless ourselves.
We’ll be buried under rubble,
in no time—flat.
Whose fault will it be?

April 16th
Salt Lake before the Great Shake

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