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The Emergency Drill

 We sat in the belly of the aeroplane
and held out for sirens to swerve across the grass;
men with cutting gear and masks.
No-one came.
On a back seat, Mr.
Phillips bandied jokes to pass the time; the dark air cooling our arms and scents like burrs stitched in hair, clothes.
In the distance we swore we heard alarms before HQ radioed the fire-drill’s close, and we emerged still feigning breaks and scrapes led by teacher bandaged and bad at the hip, attentive to this miraculous escape.
Our shadows thin creatures from the Mother Ship.
* That view of Bob Phillips’ dance down the steps comes back when I think of him alone on the fairway, trailing scarves of breath as he lugs clubs beyond the lake-side ninth for home, and feels sharp tingles, then a rip-tide through his arm that swells to pains across his chest.
To stand there, cry out above the calm, and wait for hands, a touch – but Bob is destined to collapse in thick grass, lie wide for the day in a hide and seek open to everyone.
No-one for miles comes close to play.
His big face surprised the world is taking so long.

by Chris Jones
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