Air-Raid. by Sally Michaelson

When the siren sounds
we have eight seconds
to tussle with our nighties
mother and daughter
flying down the stairs,
we don’t know the etiquette
of waiting for an explosion.

Sit on the floor
take the brace position
count to ten
wait for the anti-missile thud
imagine the track of stars
as it disintegrates

breathe a sigh of relief
take a selfie for Facebook
share a joke with the neighbours
crammed in the safe room
wonder about the man in the corridor
whose wheelchair wouldn’t fit.

When the siren sounds
we’re in the swimming pool
where the water’s so cold
it put us in shock
the lifeguards blow whistles-
an old man, absorbed in his crawl

decides to ignore them,
we have eight seconds to scramble out,
run across the road
to the multi-storey carpark
drip water on the tarmac
from shrivelled up suits

see the track of stars
through the gaps in the concrete
and the spirals of cars
say that was a big one
take a selfie for Facebook
go back and finish our lengths

Sally Michaelson is a conference interpreter in Brussels. Her poems have been published in Ink, Sweat and Tears, Lighthouse, Algebra of Owls, The Bangor Literary Journal and Amethyst.