Emergency Ghazal

Break glass, pull lever, adjust mask, tighten:
the arrow points all ways in an emergency.

A seat is more than a cushion: it’s a flotation device.
You wrap both arms around it in an emergency.

No need to be polite or fake a feeble cough.
You’re allowed to belt it out in an emergency.

As a child, once, a sudden constriction in breath made me leap
into my father’s arms: was it affection or a sense of emergency?

When a baby threw up clear across the waiting room, she was moved
to first in line. Projectile vomiting counts as an emergency.

We could hear sirens from miles away. A disembodied voice instructed us
to leave our homes, seek other shelter. Where to go in such an emergency?

My girlfriend recounts on the twelfth anniversary of her sister’s death
how she pulled off the highway from a sense of impending emergency.

Breath quickens, the pulse turns restless.
Rising tides find sluiceways in an emergency.

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