In a Bathroom During an Earthquake

You’re caught in the act
and have to decide between
two unstoppable
simultaneous calls
of nature while your small
apartment sways two
    of its doors this way
    and that between you
    and nine stairs and a landing
    and nine more stairs
    down to a quaking
earth being pitched and shaken
by its tectonic plates. You’d think
(if you could think) that of two
panic buttons, half-naked
self-preservation would come
    first because nothing much
    needs to be rescued here
    (which only a second ago
    was over there), still
    undecided, caught
in your own stop-time,
remembering in spite
of yourself the quizzes
and shifts and slips
of your geology class,
    that vertical faults like this
    can have no heave
    and horizontal faults
    can have no throw,
    that footwalls and hanging
walls are the two sides
of faults on both sides,
but you hang in suspense
till the earth in its own behalf
comes back to order.