Polarity Defined

air raid

part of: Metacognition

by Teresa Dunyati-Long

air raid

Teresa D. Hawkes, Ph.D.

when i was a child in old west germany
we lived in an apartment building
built before world war ii.

bent people,
heavy with age and memory
plowed the fields,
plied their trades in the small town
outside our tiny,
u.s. air force compound.

in every stairwell
of our building
hung tattered, yellowing
air raid instructions.

at first i wondered
how long had it been since the last bombs fell.

evidence arose in my mind.

the Herd of kids I belonged to
always played on a huge pile of dirt covering a house
behind our apartment building
that had been damaged by a bomb.

we called it The Hill.

the house’s chimney still stuck out of the top
right beneath a huge tree
twenty-years tall.

thus i assumed 20 years.

so, i wondered why bomb instructions
were still hanging inside our halls. but,
i memorized them
just in case.
there were pictures of the kind of sounds i could expect to hear
depending on the proximity
of enemy aircraft,
the rise and fall of the warning tones
to be graphed sonically upon
a treacherous sky. time to run.
there were air raid shelters
in our basement.
i memorized their location
as well,
the quickest ways to get there
depending on where i was
to begin with,

just in case.

i once asked my dad what we should do
if the air raid ever came.

he looked at me sideways,
smoothing shock from his glance
as he smoothed worry from my eight year-old forehead
with a kind, knowing smile,
then he said,

“darling, there have been no air raids
for twenty years. there never will be again.”

i often wish
he had been right.

c. 2002 TDHawkes