My father’s mother loves me with warnings:
Waterproof. Don’t you know black mold
killed Ed McMahon’s dog, Muffin? Eat butter.
Margarine is one molecule away from plastic.
Keep your car keys on the nightstand—
the fob is a free home alarm. If you hear
a window break, press the panic button.
Don’t walk with your hands full. Carry an umbrella
and cut your hair. Rapists don’t target women
who look armed. Rapists prefer women whose hair
they can grab. Don’t get out of your car
to read a note left on the windshield. That’s when
the rapist rolls out from underneath your car
and clubs you, drags you away by that long hair
I told you to cut. Call 911 from the trunk.
Kick out a taillight and wave through the hole.
When you camp, tie your food in a tree.
Don’t run from a bear—they’re faster
than you think. Imagine pulling off a rubber mask.
A bear can peel the skin from your skull
just like that, and a bear will go to the trouble,
even though it could just eat you alive.