Today, an ambulance passed me at the traffic lights,
lights flashing, and I remembered how
we followed the ambulance through every set of lights,
down the Stratford Road,
past Lipton's Grocery and the fish shop,
past The Antelope,
down the hill and past The Mermaid,
leaving the ABC on our right
(where we sometimes queued on a Saturday)
then left onto the number 8 route and past the bus terminus.
I knew things were bad, they must be bad,
us driving through red light after red light,
my dad gripping the steering wheel,
not speaking, not a word.
Through the lights on the Ladypool Road,
through the next set on Moseley Road,
then the long straight stretch downhill and up again,
and into the Accident Hospital.
The ambulance already there,
and my mother lifted out, tied tight to the stretcher.
The boys, white faced, beside her.
A long day of waiting. Sun shining. Dust.
Fish swimming in a tank.
Nobody saying anything. Nobody saying a word.
Endless day, and boredom,
watching the fish swim round and round.
Eventually, a two minute visit,
mother sitting up in bed. Tubes? I think so.
Bloodshot eyes. Everything brittle.
A long drive home, no red lights.
Nobody saying a word.
The sun still shining, and our swimming things
in a heap by the door.