Illustration: volcano puffing while chipmunk tries to eat

The Seismologist Cries on Wolf Mountain

The ‘Big One’ is coming. It’s inevitable
as the wave that’ll rise from its ashes and split

like an atom over us. They’ve been drilling it
into our heads since childhood to drop to the floor,

take cover and hold on. Not even a couplet
can hold it together when a stanza of earth

breaks from the verse of the world. We know it’s bad
but we giggle nonstop when sheltered under there.

Some of the bigger kids think the ‘Big One’ will suck
us down the drain like a flushing toilet. Experts

warn that when we stop shaking, we’ll have seven
minutes to reach higher ground. My eyes quickly climb

to the top of the tallest tree and from there
I wonder if children will crouch beneath their desks

or chairs? Will they close their eyes like storm shutters
or cry openly? Surely, no one is laughing.

Maybe, the fault lies within. Perhaps, there’s too much
stress on our plates. In the end, I see a mountain

of empty desks and chairs piled high to the sky,
and running below it, a river of cell phones

bubbling out: The person you’re trying to reach
is unavailable. Please try again later.

P.C. Vandall is the Canadian author of three collections of poetry: Something from Nothing, (Writing Knights Press) Woodwinds (Lipstick Press) and Matrimonial Cake (Red Dashboard). Her next book debuts in May of 2020 from Porcupine’s Quill. When Pamela is not writing she is spending time with her family or sleeping. She believes sleep is death without the commitment.

Earthquake illustration by C.B. Auder (digital collage).

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