Sudden Upheaval (Imagined)

The sudden upheaval; you realize that you should have kept that packed bag by the door, the one the experts advised. You grab your computer, thinking life’s work, photographs, and then are suddenly sad again, in your panic, sad again, that your dog died some years ago—you can’t help but think you would have proved your loyalty to her, to her and to life, that you would have held her against your chest, ditched the computer. So, the sad flash says, trying to make you feel better, that you, at least, would have valued life. 

But your heart is a bird.  As many clean underwear as you can push into your pockets.  Those mittens, no, those. Several fists of socks and two odd ones that lie like lost tongues, so lone that you cannot pass them by, one beneath the chest of drawers, one in a corner. 

You ponder, beneath the thumping, a change of shoes but shoes are too heavy, but none of your shoes is truly reliable, but they’re too heavy, at least, you have a toiletry kit. You make yourself not sort though it but do stick in a fresh box of neosporin, a soft cardboard of bandaids, hoping it’s nearly full, don’t check. 

You suddenly want to take, though it is ridiculous, though it could be useful, though it is ridiculous, though it could really really help you, a small silicon tea kettle that you brought up to your bedroom some months ago, that is still just sitting there, that squishes almost flat. Yes, it needs electricity, but how can you live without tea, it could also boil an egg, you justify, and as he calls you, you push it into your pack and race down to the kitchen to grab two stacks of tea bags, and trying not to fumble in your press, press them into a small plastic, your head immediately turning to what else, but– 

“we have to go,” he insists, two small metal tubes of nut butter, thanking God for the company that packages the stuff that way, as you scan the cupboard for long-life milk you already know you don’t have–

“really,” he insists.  

He wears his biggest winter coat, the one with the fur about the hood—you wonder whether he won’t be stifled by such a heavy coat, then see the two of you curled beneath it on the ground, the grass ochre, he tries

to smile.

You haven’t consciously thought that you are each taking the other, but that thought is outlined by that small smile, which he extends now beneath the worry like a hand. You don’t even whisper yes, but hurry, yes, knowing that he’s right that you must leave now, that you cannot take any more.


The above are simply thoughts. I cannot bear to think of what it must be like to flee if you are part of a couple or a family and cannot all go together (though of course this happens all the time.)

The drawing is a recent one of mine; it doesn’t really fit the subject, but it does have a corner of exit road.

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6 Comments on “Sudden Upheaval (Imagined)”

  1. Shane Says:

    This is beautiful—thank you for it.

  2. Jim Says:

    Sooo neat a write, Karin. I started thinking Ukraine after just a bit. We did have to evacuate because of a fast rising flood. A hastily filled canvas each, I had our daughter five and Arlene had the dog, those tucked under our arms.
    We left the house through the only high window in the house and waded to high ground a couple of blocks up and behind.
    All the furniture was ruined, family pictures and three cars and a motorcycle also. $35K house damage was insured and two cars as well. Nothing else was.
    Your picture was fine for fires heat or a frost.

  3. Helen Dehner Says:

    This overwhelms, Karin. I, too, cannot imagine what fleeing everyone, everything you know must feel like … my heart aches for the pain, anguish of the Ukraine citizens. I stand in solidarity with them, the rest of the world.

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