Its quick soft silver bell beating, beating,
And down the dark one ruby flare
Pulsing out red light like an artery,
The ambulance at top speed floating down
Past beacons and illuminated docks
Wings in a heavy curve, dips down,
Arid brakes speed, entering the crowd.
The doors leap open, emptying light;
Stretchers are laid out, the mangled lifted
Arid stowed into the little hospital.
Then the bell, breaking, the hush, tolls once.
And the ambulance with its terrible cargo
Rocking, slightly rocking, moves away,
As the doors, an afterthought. are closed.
We are deranged, walking among the cops
Who sweep glass and are large and composed
One is still making notes under the light.
One with a bucket douches ponds of blood
Into the street and gutter.
One hangs lanterns on the wrecks that cling.
Empty husks of locusts, to iron poles.
Our throats were tight as tourniquets,
Our feet were bound with splints, but now,
Like conva[escents intimate and gauche,
We speak through sickly smiles and warn
With the stubborn saw of common sense,
The grim joke and the banal resolution
The traffic moves around with care,
But we remain, touching a wound
That opens to our richest horror
Already old, the question Who shall die?
Becomes unspoken Who is innocent?
For death in war is done by hands;
Suicide has cause and stillbirth, logic:
And cancer, simple as flower, blooms.
But this invites the occult mind,
Cancels our physics with a sneer,
And spatters all we knew of denouement
Across the expedient and wicked stones.