Duck and Cover!
by Steven McCabe
Duck and cover!
Head down! Hands behind head!
Knees on floor!
You are Hieronymus Bosch! Imagine flame! Smoke!
As if they were saying,
‘You are now a fish or a block of wood.’
‘We’ve got you where we want you.’
Did no parents, even once, wonder?
Or had the anesthesia already
Photos found online of school building and schoolchildren participating in ‘Duck and Cover’ exercises. I do not claim ownership of these images. I have used them to create new works for non-commercial purposes of parody, education, and commentary.
I loved your mention of Hieronymus Bosch. Being of Dutch heritage I was curious to know more about him. I found out that at the age of 13 he had watched his town destroyed by a catastrophic fire, and that he painted macabre and nightmarish depictions of hell. I think the anesthesia must have already kicked in when I was ducking and covering in my 3rd grade class at school. I remember covering my trepidation with brush-offs like, “Oh, no need to worry. It’ll never happen here.” Isn’t that pretty much what every innocent does until awakened by smoke?
Thank you Jeanie for fleshing out the details of Bosch’s childhood and experiences. That adds a lot of context. His probably already active imagination might have been sent into warp-overdrive with that experience. Interesting you had the ability in Grade 3 to debate with yourself over the implied threat and concluded all would be well. Great ability to give yourself peace of mind. I think I pictured farms outside of the city limits (why there I have no idea) being blasted to smithereens suddenly from the sky and it just didn’t compute. What had the cows or the cheese done? Your last line is like a proverb or line in a psalm. It’s quite haunting.
I can remember doing this, too. You’ve recreated and evoked that place and time.
Thank you mrsdaffodil. I wonder why ‘crawlspace’ never became a meme.