Family Disaster EDVER
Miami, Florida, USA
I thought I was prepared
for any emergency. Fires, floods,
hurricanes, rogue gunmen, bombs,
and worse—we’ve covered them all,
in scary student emergency training drills.
We’ve shut down the school,
painted our faces with fake blood,
and practiced carrying one another
to an imaginary helicopter, moaning
and screaming with almost-real fear
as we pretended to survive crazy
Nowhere in all that madness
did I ever imagine being sent away
by Mom, to meet my long-lost dad
in the remote forest where I was born
on an island no one in Miami
ever mentions without sighs,
smiles, curses, or tears . . .
but travel laws have suddenly changed,
the Cold War is over, and now it’s a lot easier
for divided half-island, half-mainland
Cuban American families
to be reunited.
Mom is so weirdly thrilled,
it seems suspicious.
From the moment she announced
that she was sending me away to meet Dad,
I could tell how relieved she felt to be getting
a relaxing break from her wild child,
If she would listen, I would argue
that it’s not my fault a racing bicycle
got in my way while I was playing a game
on my phone and skateboarding at the same time.
That’s what games are for—entertainment, right?
Escape, so that all those minutes spent gliding
home from school aren’t so shameful.
As long as I stare into a private screen,
no one who sees me
Tap, zap, swipe,
the phone makes me look as busy
as someone with plenty of friends,
a kid who’s good at sports
instead of science.
In that way, I’m just like Mom, who hardly ever
looks up from her laptop on weekends.
She just keeps working like a maniac,
trying to rediscover lost species.
She’s a cryptozoologist, a scientist who searches
for hidden creatures, both the legendary ones
like Bigfoot, and others that no one ever sees
anymore, simply because they’re so rare
and shy, hiding while terrorized by hunters,
loggers, and poachers who sell their stuffed
or pinned parts to collectors.
But what if there’s more?
What if Mom’s real reason for peering
into her secret online world
is flirting to meet weird guys
who might not even be
the handsome heroes
shown in their photos . . . ?
What if she’s dating,
and that’s why she needs
to get rid of me, so she can go out
while I’m away?