If, all dials to the redline,
they gave the eight minute warning –
'Please exit this station, proceed to the blue zone and seek shelter…'
– would you run the distance with me?
This is the drill:
80 seconds to leave the building,
380 more to reach the trench.
Could you vault the road and marsh in time?
Could you show the walkers and dogs,
children out on bikes brought up short,
the reason why the field falls 3 spade-dug metres,
why it grows a mile-wide arc of blue-tipped poles?
Possibly, the heron takes your eye,
a hawthorn root wrong-foots you.
Anyhow you tumble.
We hug on, earth rolling back
from the sun,
heron flapping box-like,
tide turning under the seagulls,
clouds settling a drift far out at sea.
Our heartbeats bump at each other,
ventricles hump the seconds out.
Atomic noons irradiate
this sleeping chamber;
photons bathe your dreaming head.
Going to be a factor 25 day,
and you wonder why I shake you
by the shoulder.
Matthew John Williams
2000, revised 2006
Rudyard Kipling alternative.