#12: After Diane di Prima

The wonderful China Martens published a new zine after a writing class with Ariel Gore.

Here’s my contribution.

Mandatory Evacuation Readiness

It’s a slow snowfall now, falling in beautiful, fat pieces, artful and calm, peaceful. 

Two months ago, the sky was red-orange, ash filled the bird plates, their water. A bull elk and a rabbit lay close by each other and nearby, resting, chewing, breathing the hard air. Text messages came through from the county, then the mandatory evacuation notice, then the alarming alarm. 

I left the wild turkeys to the fates. The elk. All my little bird friends. The slow-flighted magpies. Told them to listen to their instincts, as if they’d ever forget. Then joined the one-lane slog of humanity, going through one intersection to take one of three two-lane highways out of the mountains.

Before that, I’d evacuated from the soul-dying of a life I’d worked so hard to build, a community I’d given so much to, a human being I had tried to keep at arm’s length but they wouldn’t have it. They’re that kind of person and what I learned is that so many people are, people who are dependent on violence to make their way through. Or someone hurt them and they’re always looking to get hurt and they’ll figure a way to make it look bad for everyone around them. It’s hard and sad. But you have to keep your eyes open. You know.

So, here’s the evacuation list because I’m always leaving and know a thing or two about leaving even when my timing is off. I was raised by someone who had to stay out of obligation, but was always leaving, too. Part credit goes to her though she would disown most of it, my good mother, sweet good mother:

  1. Know where you’ll go. It seems like this should go further down the list, but if I put it there, I wouldn’t be preparing you for the inevitable.
  2. Give birth someone who’ll care for you if you can. This step can go in place of 1.
  3. Take care of people but don’t count on reciprocity. Take best care of people who understand reciprocity. Trust your instincts on this. Do not doubt your instincts. There are people just waiting to make a story out of you after taking everything that’s precious to you. There are people just waiting to play out their psychic dramas on your head. You’ll know.
  4. Don’t let anyone make you feel shitty for surviving or for how you survived.
  5. Don’t let anyone take your life for their own. Don’t let anyone tell you shit you know is false. Smile. Nod. Run away.
  6. Remember history. They always burn the women. Make sure your horse is well cared for. Take the best care of your horse. Don’t let anyone shame you for keeping an eye out for yourself, for your horse. Anyone who shames you for taking care of your horse is not on your side. Remember that.
  7. Logistical details: 
    • food, fuel, water, beloved pets, layers of clothing, a radio, don’t rely on anything digital if you can help it, know the address and name of where you’re going, write it down because you’ll forget, never underestimate panic. Know your Go: Your Go-Box and Go-Bag protocols. Practice them each night. Don’t let yourself get sloppy during the day. 
    • When you must flee, always slow down for wild animals. Human civilization depends on wild animals even though most humans don’t know that and act like the earth is superfluous which is why you’re fleeing in the first place. This is always applicable. People who don’t know this are untrustworthy. Remember that.
    • Other logistical details: have a solid disposition even if other people don’t like it. They’re not on your side. Remember that. A pure, as in unfiltered and unflinching, knowledge of human nature. No shame especially by people who claim not to shame. Beware cliques and such. Lone wolf it as much as possible. Keep that to yourself, though. Have a proper perspective and vast quantities of paranoia, well-hidden, stored out of sight, keep the hand you’re dealt close to your chest. 
    • Travel light.
    • If you can, offer shelter only to the trustworthy, those who can keep secrets, who have your back, who love you, but love themselves, too, understand the preciousness of having a soul. If you have doubts, listen to them with ferocious love for your own intuition. Those who love you most trust you to trust them.
    • Most importantly, offer shelter, especially to people who are dependent for no reason you can figure, be generous to a fault, even allowing others to play out their psychic dramas on your head, remembering not to expect reciprocity. If you survive, and you will, your soul is the most important thing.
    • Note on firearms: Go unarmed to every conflict. It’s just a thing I believe. Maybe it’s just a thing I say. Maybe it’s about my soul.

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