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October 2013, vol 8, no 3

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Jane Fraser

Chasing Cars

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me
And just forget the world?

Clock hands dawdle and our two agitated hearts outpace the weighted minutes, anticipating the taxi. We've waited long enough; and for this baby that's expected. We've got a date to keep at the clinic to see if this time we'll see that speck, hear that beat. A few beeps, a text, the sound of a horn. The taxi swallows my daughter and me. Side by side, we ride through London cocooned, late afternoon, as March bows out with a heavy sigh.

a brief glimpse,
clouds of pink-tinged cherry blossom
cling to weeping stems

My stomach tightens. The storm that's been brewing in silence in the back of this black cab is about to burst. She's stabbing away at her mobile to see if he's left the office yet. She needs him there. "Take a left on Edith Grove on to the Embankment, see if we can avoid this snarl," she bites at the driver. "No good, luv. Been like this all bloody day. Ken keeps changing the systems."

Let's waste time
Chasing cars
Around our heads

Rain lashing on the roof, windows steaming and her couched in my arms, tears streaming. Cloud burst in Chelsea. "It's an omen," she wails, "Snow Patrol." I listen as the radio plays. I've heard it before, a lone plaintive voice. I feel an unexplained pain. "It's the song we loved when we met and the song that was playing when I lost the last baby. It's going to happen again. I can't believe this." Neither can I. The lament continues. The engine idles. The fare clicks-up as the minutes tick-by. The cabbie's sympathetic smile reflects in the rear-view mirror.

in perfect harmony,
a pair of windscreen wipers
clears the way ahead

We see Michael's bike already parked-up outside the Lister. Just in time. He's protected in leathers, helmet still on, visor down, looking like a Pizza Hut delivery man. The rain is unrelenting, the passing cars splashing by as we stand outside. Ellen spits words at him through his shield.

"Ellen Reilly," calls the nurse. I stay outside watching my daughter and son-in-law trail her into the dim space beyond the door. Time is out of synch again as I watch the clock. Too long before they call; but all too soon it comes. The gloom lifts in a room full of smiles.

on the screen, cursors
light a white grain of rice
floating in a black bubble

It's almost dark as we head home in a cab while Michael flies past on his bike, nothing in his path. The rain has stopped at last and the lights flick on. Time seems to be moving in a measured pace again. Ellen sings in tune.

Forget what we're told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden
That's bursting into life