(13 January 1957 / Chatham, Virginia)

Fire Drill

Bells sound them from sleep, and their imaginations
rise, recite all they have been told: the curtains

of fire, the beds, nightgowns, their hair, their hair.
They've practiced this escape before

and know to close the windows last, descend
the darkened flights of stairs in practiced wordlessness

to line up, barefoot, on the dew-wet lawn,
face the building, pretend to watch it burn.

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