Emergency Management Drill
They tell us about the drill after the lights go out. We huddle under the down comforter. The October harvest moon shines through the window. Val tells us his teacher pulled down the curtains so no one could look in. Leona says her teacher locked the door, you know, in case someone tries to get in. My heart descends to my belly with what comes next, the image of who tries to come in. Instead, my girl with her nut-brown all-seeing eyes, saves me with something I could never see coming. She says, you know mom, like say a deer came in from the woods next to the soccer field. It wouldn’t matter which door he came in, but somehow, he found his way in. It still hasn’t occurred to either one of them, at five and seven, what they’re sheltering from. Instead, for a moment, we cuddle and are held safe in this illusion and the moonlight and the fact that it’s a Friday and we can stay home tomorrow. We see the brilliant buck, his hooves clacking down the hallway. He wanders past the world map mural and the construction paper apples with pictures of kindergartners pasted inside. He passes by the cafeteria, inhales the smell of grilled cheese through his wide nostrils, and wonders, why is it so quiet? Where have all the children gone? I plunge into my own dark spiral. I know soon enough the deer will slip into an image of an angry and broken and scared young man in combat attire with weapons no school should ever see—when again, she pulls me back. She says more of the mysterious animal who found his way in through the gymnasium doors, but really mom, you know, he probably would be more afraid of us.
Jesse Curran is a poet, essayist, scholar, and teacher who lives in Northport, NY. Her essays and poems have appeared in a number of literary journals including About Place, Spillway, Leaping Clear, Ruminate, The Whale Road Review, Blueline, and Still Point Arts Quarterly. www.jesseleecurran.com
A Song for Jesse