01: August 2014 #12 - Fire Safety

Authored by Susan Konz #1

Fire Safety

by Susan Konz

Touch the doorknob: if hot, do not open.
Better to let one room burn than singe
yourself. If singed, stop, drop, and roll.
Keep rolling until down the block at the neighbor’s
house you used to call aunt Barbara who
has made you cookies. Eat the cookies,
but do not double dip in the cold
milk she had set out for you. Wipe
all the crumbs away like rubble, sift
through and find the fallen chocolate chip.
Eat the chocolate chip, but do not let her
see this. When finished say, “Thank you,
Aunt Barbara,” and keep rolling.
On Thanksgiving when your widowed
father burns the turkey and the oil catches
fire in the oven: do not throw water
around the turkey. Do not weep or try
to roll to a more functional kitchen.  
Talk calmly while the flames lap the green
and white ceramic tiles your mother laid
until you remember that it’s baking soda
you need.  Find the baking soda above
the burning oven and dispense.  
Never fix the oven.
Leave that for the terrible real
estate agent with the dyed blonde,
permanent up-do and blue eye shadow
from 1986 who will come to list your mother’s
house once your father has turned all the savings
into handles of vodka and ash. Vodka is very
flammable. By the transitive property, your
father is very flammable. You’ve always suspected
this, but now you know – do not spark anything
in his presence. If he starts to smoke, push him
to the ground and roll him for as long as is reasonable
or until safety is established. Safety is key. When
your brother lights his left leg aflame with zippo
refills and a cigarette, do not believe the doctors
when they tell you it is not fatal. The fever
he contracts will be a different kind of fire.
Roll him to the hospital and give the people
there all your money. Use credit cards and payment
plans and sometimes running from the waiting
room mid-sentence. Every night, touch his forehead,
if hot, remain vigilant. Do not let him burn.