Safety Instructions from a Hotel Guidebook, Phuket, 2007

Do not panic.
Rise above yourself.
Proceed to higher ground.
Move at a brisk but moderate pace.
Faster than that.
We suggest you reconsider the importance of that particular piece of baggage.
Take only what you can carry.
We regret that dinner reservations may not be honored tonight.
It is advisable, from this point on, only to look forward.
Avoid succumbing to illusions of chaos.
There is nothing to see behind you.
Do not consider yourself an evacuee, unless you intend to become one.
Property can be replaced.
Bags can be reclaimed.
Hotel bills can still be charged to a major credit card.
We do not offer refunds for early departures.
Please tally your receipt at the mini-bar before checking out.
We are highly experienced at managing such situations.
As long as the elephants stay off the highway, the roads will be easy to navigate.
There is no reason to look for any of the houses on the coastline.
They were never there in the first place.
Real estate values were meant to fluctuate.
The water does not threaten those who know how to ride its currents.
Anything you can lose, you never had.
Your wallet, your keys, your identity—trinkets at the flea market.
Pay in cash, get special tourist discount!
There are times when money is revealed to be science fiction.
Even the pickpockets will admit to this.
Your children represent a more intractable problem.
We advise you to leave them home in the future.
Of course, there is no future.
Even the present is not happening.
We live in an echo of a hiccup of the past.
You might not accomplish all you intended to on this vacation.
The morning meditation class has been postponed.
We cannot assume liability for incidents that occur off hotel grounds.
You have been deceived into the belief that air is the only thing we breathe.
Corpuscles have been starved, but not for lack of other options.
There is no reason to limit yourself to oxygen in a universe of so many chemicals.
Chemistry and physics support every detail of our biology.
Evolution is our nature. We live to be transformed.
Remember that nuclear fusion provides both the light and the heat.
There is no reason to regret that, in the end, it will destroy us all.
Please consider following the traditional advice: breathe in, then breathe out.
The next breath is always waiting. Breathe deeply on the mountain-top.

Depending on the extent of the flood, an alternate activity may be recommended.

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CRAIG FISHBANE has been published in the New York Quarterly, Flashquake, Opium, Night Train, the Barbaric Yawp, Prime Number and the Minetta Review. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2008. His chapbook, Dengue Fever, will be put out by BoneWorld Publications in 2012.

4 responses to “Meditations in the Event of a Tsunami”

  1. Ben says:

    Every line
    Well written.

  2. David says:

    Really good expression of human helplessness in the face of nature’s fury, and the foolishness of official attempts to create the impression of control.

  3. Rachel Pollon says:

    Holy cow, yeah.

  4. Burt Brodt says:

    Good show. Not everybody can turn a tragedy into a comedy. I’m still laughing (through my tears?).

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