In the early hours the pain came
and she told him now was the time,
so he dashed down the stairs
to his spiked running shoes
ready by the door and ran as fast
as he had ever run in his life
past houses sleeping in the mist,
and all he could see was her face,
her anxious face, resolutely braced
against the agony of giving birth.
At the top of the road he rapped
on the midwife’s door, then again.
No light came on, no voice replied.
Frantic now, his blood pounding
- should he stay there or go back -
he spun in his shoes this way and that.
Then he spied a pinhead of light
drawing closer through the mist
resolving to his relief into a lamp
as the midwife pedalled up to him.
That was the night when I was born
and I think of it now as I pull on
my Nike trainers to go for a run,
how different the world was then
before telephones in every home
and long before smart phones
reached you at any time or place,
when all you could do was run
up the road for a midwife to come,
as my father did as he ran for my life.
Now I set off and the blood pumps
through my veins, the air thumps
into my lungs, and like a newborn
my eyes awaken and sharpen
the world into focus, and then
I can’t stop, I run over the horizon,
and the great ball of the Earth
with its whirling blues and greens
becomes a boy’s marble that spins
away from under my shoes as I run on.