Emergency Guidelines

If caught in smoke
If trapped by fire
If forced to advance
      through flames

visualize the faces
      of the dead

flares at nightfall
burning through ice
flickering over water

the invisible hand
has plucked you
from the fire

though you
have not deserved it
nor to be dropped

a scorched leaf
at the stony margin where
cormorants hold up their wings

like shocked neighbors
      aghast at
      your catastrophes

the hand is
      indifferent to your fate

this sense
of an impending fist
some looming thing wishing to grind you
      to paste
      is pure projection but

be prepared to slip
soundless into water

to skim along
under the surface
breathing through a reed

each moment a lucid
pool in which to sink

Published in Summer Stock