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This is a Test of the Internal Emergency Broadcast System

On her way home from school

your little girl wants spotted mice

from the pet store.

She wants to give them a bath

without losing them in the suds

but they escape their paper bag

and disappear underfoot in the car.

Now your little girl wants

a bright green snake

that won’t get lost in the snow.

The red-tipped posts lining

the drive look wounded.

This is not an emergency.

This is winter saying, I decapitated

your small glass bird.

Hungry deer step from the woods

on velvet-gloved legs.

This is a test.

Place your elevated heart

rate in this prepaid, self-addressed,

steel envelope.

We should all be prepared

to proceed calmly

through the crackling air.

from Little StrangerFind it in the library

Copyright © 2013 Lisa Olstein
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Published in Lisa Olstein Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.