In Case of Attack
Circle the wagons, dive
under your desk, step away
None of this advice is ever
good. Once you learned
Dew Line Road was named for
Cold War paranoia—Distant
Early Warning—and not droplets,
early summer moisture you’d see
gleaming on dense dune grasses
each morning as you biked past long shuttered
air base housing, a gate off its hinges,
Keep Out sign askew and faded,
the romance was over. Even when you spied
a red fox, her kit trailing her, their tails
auburn flags in May sunrise.
She stopped, froze, the kit too,
froze on cue and stared you down
as if to say: Try it. Just fucking try it,
which of course you wouldn’t.
I come in peace, you heard yourself say,
stupidly. The rusted chains on swings
half cracked in the playground
of the abandoned air base, creaked,
and you blinked first, averted your gaze
to where a splintering ladder
leaned against a one-story bungalow.
A hazard, you thought, to have it there,
inviting bored kids to climb onto a roof
that’s clearly rotting and maybe tumble
into a shattering window, into a kitchen
that could not be torn down, the rumored
cost to do it right too high, the pipes,
all that old asbestos.
And by the time you looked back,
the foxes had made evasive maneuvers,
even their orange bright tails
the tall green grass.
Spume at the breaker line neither
sand nor sea, foam mica flecked,
not liquid, not solid.
Crabs, green in storm light,
brown under Florida sun;
this is what the eye does.
Dawn over Captiva Island’s Gulf
comes slow, palms inked blue-
black against gray sky,
introduced into the scene
and then it’s sudden.
Daylight defines beige trunks once
gray, rounds the contours, paints
on the landscape three pink
Adirondack chairs: shadows, outline.
With dawn, they become specific,
bright, reveal on each a plaque inscribed
private, private, private, as if
a word affixed could draw a line
between mine and not mine, yours
and not yours.
One word, antonym for
the extra cup on every Seder table,
for the door, even in the skeptic’s home,
maybe not flung open but left,
every Passover, at least