SHELTERING IN PLACE
(Indian Point Emergency Drill, June 2005)
The nuclear power plant howls, a tape-looped
owl that Dopplers its call, rising and falling through
our valley. It will not stop twisting its horn--
just practice, like scales, not my business this time.
My fifth grade teacher once swore an atom bomb
dropped on the field beside our school would leave
no one dead who squatted in the hall, hands over head.
She was an air raid warden in World War Two, had
a big blue flashlight to knock out anyone who panicked.
Much later, I read about a specific intensity of earthquake
that would compel anyone to flee a building.
What about that? My house is just a house
and now the sky's the color of field mice, but loud.
A storm has been predicted; always, we are
on some kind of alert. My husband says to
renew my passport. Sometimes I find that
laughable, but not unpatriotic. I want to know
the exact thing for which I'm drilling, why I shouldn't
attempt escape. Rain pocks the creek in little explosions,
or maybe they are only muddy blossoms.
I'm almost certain lightning is what it appears to be.
Christine Potter's first collection of poems, Zero Degrees At First Light, will be available on Word in Fall '06. She is the head moderator at the Alsop Review Gazebo.