Karina Chung

Northridge - January 17, 1994

Dad couldn’t explain
The strange coincidental deaths
Of all our goldfish
Last night.
Nor could he explain why I
Suddenly felt sick.

I rolled out a mass of mattress from underneath my
Usual bed.
Mom and a three-year old fit
Quite snuggly on the extra mattress,
Both of us
Sharing the floor of my room.

My tummy continued to
Be squeamish and
Growly.  After a while,
I drifted off to sleep
To a world of sweet dreams.

Then -
Lightning.

I woke up at 4:31 with a startling
Jerk. I
Knew
To sirenize:
‘Mommy, shaking, mommy, shaking!’

I Poked
My mom and
Prodded
Her till she awoke.

Pictures once hanging on the walls committed Suicide,
Chairs
Toppled.
Closet doors
Opened,
Slammed against their hinges.  It
Rained
Storage from above.

The whole house
Wobbled and tottered
And sounded as if Earth had a
Giant tummy-ache.

Perhaps
Ominous (Californian smog)
Engulfed a misfortunate driver
In misguidance.
Perhaps
Ominous created an optical-illusion,
A path straight through our garage door.

Turns out the poor victim of Ominous wasn’t a
Who.
It was an
It.
I named
It
Mister Earthquake.

I remember seeing
Each of
My stuffed animals,
Reunited for the first time,
In a loving heap,
A tight hug
Suffocating
My pillow, where my
Head
Would have been
If I had slept in my
Usual bed.

Dad trudged downstairs,
Shadowing
Him was me,
Koala-clinging to my mom.

Our refrigerator welcomed us,
Its door wide                  open, but
        Nothing
      Was inside.
Instead the floor was selfish, greedy, hungry.
A buffet’s worth of food
Leisurely displayed in the midst of extreme Emergency.

I have absolutely
No idea
 How we got through the giant sea of glass.
Shards
In Shades from sunlit blue to
Deep dark green
Reached
Out to stab.
Each edge
Different in shape
Yet the whole community of
Butterdishes, Garfield mugs and China was
Unified
Within the sea.

Got to the door to
Put on my shoes
Put on my coat
Put on my- gotta go!

Then -
Thunder.

Each rumble
Slowly Failing In sound
Shaky Foundations Inside
Sounds, Falling Items
Fading.
Ahead…
Neighborhood barbeques,
Endless Jenga.

By daylight:
Games, fun, laughing.
By nighttime:
Haunted shadows,
Impersonating the return of
Mister Earthquake.

After more than many nights of family camping
In our Volvo
We moved back into nightmare zone.

Mom started cleaning the kitchen.
Shards of the Glass Sea
Totaled to two giant trash barrels,
Filled.

My dad’s office had a natural
Disaster of its own.
Remnants of a paper hurricane,
Flattened leaves of trees
Strewn
Across the chair and desk and floor.

Every single cabinet,
In every single room
Had opened up
And vomited all its contents
To the floor.

Our glass cabinet, custodian of
Collectibles, sacrificed his usual
Pride. He
Freefell with a grand sweeping bow
Towards the ground.
Up to this day we still have his remnants,
Carefully pieced together,
Along with a single glass grape that freed
Itself
From the bunch of
Swarovski crystal grapes.

Then -
Silence.

Finally,
Mother Nature went back to bed,
And so did I,

A scared, but lucky girl.




[TABLE OF CONTENTS, LHS CLASS OF 2009 EDITION]


Copyright 2002-2007 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2007 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.