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.