Wilderness Guide Exam

a watercolor featuring a pink, orange and yellow sky
So you’ve got three million refugees on the move,
about a fifth of them men, plus women, children—
how are you organizing this? It’s an essay question
(yes it’s the only one on the test) and you have two hours
to write. Hold those pencils, I’ve got details. Listen:
Snakes, check. Sand, check. Water scarcity. Tents?
Yeah, your peeps can use goat hair but that takes time
so at first, maybe sheets, ropes. Like you did last month.
Assume a few goatskin water bags to start, too. Nope,
their backpacks carry bedding, clothes, plus the moms
carry stuff for diapers. Everyone’s got sun protection
like yes, head coverings, and loose tunics. All of them
hard workers, that’s your biggest asset.
Do they listen? Heck, sometimes. When you blast a horn
really loud to get them quiet. Actually with that crowd,
I’ll tell you, you might need something dramatic. Fiery.
Use your imagination. Extra credit if you build in
law enforcement in your scenarios. And don’t forget—
some of you might not even know this—nursing mothers
have to get off their feet often and need plenty of
water. Watch for pregnancy, too.
Nope, the only food you start with is wheat crackers. Plain
but tasty and salted. Yes, right, for the moms to lactate
they need more protein, so build that in. How? Jeez. More
goats maybe, or fly in some meat birds. It’s your plan,
you’re supposed to have skills by now. When I hit the buzzer
that’s your exam starting. What do you mean, terrain?
It’s a wilderness—that’s what this class has been about,
right? You thought I’d give you New York City?
Watercolor by the poet
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