Red Cross Training
Yesterday I fell in love with a face.
Only for five minutes or so:
Wholly inappropriate, I know -
an excess of emotion displaced
while I tried my best to make you safe
as I had been taught to do.
I found you lying on the floor,
an empty bottle as a clue:
You did pretend-coma so well,
as you had being chest-stabbed just before.
But as I practised faux first aid -
lifted your young chin to the sky -
I couldn't help but feel afraid
at all the ways we'd learned to die.
And in your face see someone's son
in a real tragic situation -
not the luxury of simulation -
and know, however hard we try
we never will save everyone.
A day spent saving plastic lives
(and faking collapse, and wounds with knives)
I should return to the world outside
better prepared for whatever arrives.
But I found myself just killing time
drifting about from place to place,
pounding the streets to forget your face
as you have already forgotten mine.
But walking made me shake no less
chest tightening with delayed stress -
Real panic, the price to be paid
for playing stopped hearts and opened wrists
and for seeing love where it doesn't exist,
wishing someone could come to my first aid
- some passing stranger, brave and kind,
to save me from the dangers of my mind.