Disaster Prep

Someone’s always supposing
that the next big quake is coming.
Scientists can’t yet predict earthquakes
with any precision so maybe it’s just
the unspeakable human yearning
for tragedy. No one will admit to it but
we lap up stories of celebrities
who sexually abuse children
and are nostalgic for the post-9/ll days
and wonder what it would be like
if a serial killer were on the loose in our towns
and imagine all the frantic calls from relatives
should seismologists be right about the Big One.
The hypothetical heroism
of how we’d handle disaster
so compelling, we fantasize about
FEMA dropping tanks of water
after our supply has been depleted
& we brag about our readiness kits
stocked with canned beans & first aid supplies.

Growing up, we feared tornadoes
instead of earthquakes. My mom shepherded us
into the downstairs bathtub, the safest place
should our house be struck. With tornadoes,
at least you know for certain
when they’re coming.

Claire Kiefer is a writer and educator living in the Bay Area. She received her MFA in Poetry from San Francisco State University in 2007 and works in the education program of a nonprofit oral history book series.

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