Wearing my life like a hand-me-down

The boy who lived near the silenced air-raid siren
where I broke my arm crashing my sister’s old bike,
dared drivers by sauntering in front of them,
risking being run over, a fate I dreaded
after seeing a run-over dog, its blank eye bulged.
Outside Sunday School the usual burnt sugar smell
diminished, the jam factory closed until Monday,
came a screech of brakes, a sickening thud
when that boy rode his luck, and a Wolseley’s grille.
His sensible sister rode in the ambulance with him,
our mob rocketing home with the dramatic news
to parents who chose to dig in a miniature garden,
prepare a roast, rather than cleanse their sins,
our wasted junior scripture their chance for a break.

During our mad dash home running was impeded
by clutching my collar because my sensible sister
instilled in me a rule that we must not let go
until we saw a dog after seeing an ambulance
or our mother would die, which I later disproved
shamefully, to my slight relief due to the number
of ambulances seen often from the bus, and dogs,
although numerous, hiding when I needed them most.
The T-shirt had not yet emigrated from America.
Like ours, the boy’s family emigrated to dry Australia
where he became a policeman near where I lived,
an arresting irony that made my mind smile.
I inherit my rogue son’s hand-me-down Tees,
making the most of irresponsibility. 

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