Tane stands in front of the strawberries in their bed
Waiting for then to change from green to red
Because Grandma said we have to wait for the red.
‘Don’t touch. Not ready,’ I said.
Tane sits in Grandma’s car in the traffic lights queue
Waiting for them to change from red to green.
Because Grandma said we have to wait for the green.
“Red. Red. Ready now!” he yells. “Silly you!”
Pear leaves turn slowly green orange red.
But no cars stop for them. We watch as bare branches
Speed in the wind and lean out sideways
As they skid round tight corners. Stop! We say.
At tea time when the sky turns orange
No clouds and no cars ever slow for it,
And it doesn’t fall down, like leaves shed,
And we can’t reach up to eat it, when it’s red.
This is why we trust fire engines best.
They are always red and always ready.
They never stop at traffic lights or for us at crossings.
And yesterday Tane touched one.
After the fire alarm rang in the apartment building
The heaving engine did stop, this time,
Right here, right now, right beside us.
And now Tane feels he has swallowed
The fire engine whole, red, and ready
And it is glowing and lit up inside him.
The way no sky, leaves, traffic lights or strawberry
Will ever be, no matter how long he waits.