1944 Meg poem

A Poor Exit

We came down the steps to the
waiting ambulance slowly…

A Poor Exit

We came down the steps to the
waiting ambulance slowly. The ‘sick-on-
leave’ had the paper parcel containing
his small kit tucked under one elbow
and I supported the other.
  Ten minutes ago the street had been
deserted. Now there were twenty or more
children circulating noisily round the
ambulance, fingering the sides, poking
the tyres, and even attempting to let
down the steps at the back (a feat
not to be accomplished without practice.)
It was Saturday, a school holiday,
and here, it seemed, was a heaven-
sent diversion. I did not blame
them, but I prayed that none of the
smaller fry would camp beneath it
before we moved off.

A Poor Exit

   The chattering diminished as we
descended the steps, the spotlight
focussed on us mercilessly, and for
a minute there was quietness. Then
a stage whisper inquired whether ‘that
was a lady doctor?’  ‘No’ The
reply came from a sturdy circa-6yr-
old, evidently in authority. ‘No, she
is a soldier.’ In support of his
authority I hid my stethoscope
behind my back as I advanced.
 ‘She’s a – – – she’s a – – – General’
he went on, a little puzzled and
probably wondering why so important
an officer should visit so unimportant
a place. ‘She’s got three pips and
a crown, she must be a General.’
   By that time I had climbed
up beside the driver and was
eager to be removed from the
range of further speculations. As
the engine started a tousle-headed
imp of insatiable curiosity emitted
a shrill pipe ‘It isn’t three pips
and a crown, Tommy, it’s three pips
and a button!
   And then we departed – a poor
 exit I thought.

Margaret Taylor 1944

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