Training

Doesn't it feel as though you've been practicing

for this moment all your life? Like,

didn't your parents make sure every

part of the plant or animal

sacrificed for your use had some

practical application, down to the last
oily whisker and scraped

cavity of marrow bone? Weren't you told

to straighten your back and look

without cringing at the fish eyeball
swimming in soup?

Your grandmother crouched through the forest,

pregnant with your mother, as bombs

fell and sniper fire zinged through the slats of night.

Your grandfather walked, prodded by bayonets,

his arms behind his head. How many miles

before they were herded into a camp where they waited,

five men to a cot, for deliverance?

The only mantra they taught you was Be prepared.

Henceforth, even in the face of what no one could ever

know was coming, they added to their hidden stores

of rice in the cellar, built walls of canned

goods, deposited flour and sugar and salt

down the empty mouth of every plastic container.

Bootleggers of grim hope, they were always

tensing for the future while keeping one

eye open for an exit sign, a hidden trap-

door leading away from this moment backed against a wall.



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