A Street Incident

by Diana Hendry

And our morning routines on hold
as a fire engine eases down
our narrow street. No smoke.
No fire but we’re held at the window –
like all our neighbours – as a ladder zips up
to the roof and a crane’s launched after,
arcing into the sky, setting a platform
for two firemen (small as Lego men
in their yellow helmets) who now aloft
peer down one of a row of chimney pots.

First it’s a rope dropped down, then
a long-handled instrument that looks
like something you’d use to roast chestnuts on
and eventually – one hour? two? – they push
down a blanket. Smallest fireman leans over
the pot (conjurer and rabbit comes to mind)
and hauls out a fluffy white (now black) cat.
We clap and cheer. Fireman acknowledges
his audience with a bow. Cat, safely boxed,

descends. But what was it thinking of,
this daft moggy, spending a night on the tiles
then thinking a chimney pot a new kind
of cat flap? My partner says that long-haired
cats are not as bright as their short-haired
fellows. So a soppy cat, this one and lucky
to live in a country soppy about pets.

We go back to our morning tasks cheered
and loving. So shines a good deed in a naughty world
I think, wondering how many it would take
to redeem us, redeem us, redeem us.

Diana Hendry has published three collections of poems, the latest being Late Love & Other Whodunnits (Peterloo/Mariscat), and a pamphlet, Twelve Lilts: Psalms and Responses. She lives in Edinburgh and was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Edinburgh University 2008-10.

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