Rescue Song

Joy Katz

—What Do People Do All Day, Richard Scarry


FIRE! I read in my modern jazz radio 
deejay voice. A cat mother screams, 

her iron set the house aflame, 
her cat-son plays, upstairs, alone—

My son has lived to be 4 and each morning asks for this story.
Keep reading, Mama. SAVE MY BOY! 

I make the uppercase of emergency 
gentle as the scent of laundry detergent. 

A ladder claws the boy-cat’s sill, I purr.
Purr the burning playroom door, the ax that chops it down. 

Disaster solved. Wake/kiss/stir eggs: good morning love
At 9 a.m.

                  Tell me again!
                                           I was in yoga when 

people held hands and fell out of burning buildings downtown. 
Commuters caught them on the small screens of their phones 

tucked them into breast pockets and walked home. 

What’s happening, Mama? A nuclear accident (don’t react)
being narrated on the radio, in Japanese.

A woman’s voice like one of those paper flowers that blooms in water.
TRAPPED! the hashy simultaneous translation drowns her 

elegant hush hush hush fatality onrush. 
Morning brings fire, fire brings hoses full of cream.

When the EMTs do come—I wake up and can’t move 
wake up can’t see wake up dead

he will kiss my knee and go to school. All’s well.
Location of precinct. Location of alarm bell. Location of hydrant.

Location: our street in Brooklyn where, having dropped him 
(as a baby) under a cab, I pray the driver will run over me too.

He will, he is a father, he understands—
Keep breathing. 

The ambulance dazzles like a cocktail ring.
My boy leaps into the net on page 23.