Guest Bards: Colorblind Emergencies



“¡AGUAS!” he cried.

Mexican people do that.

It means “Careful!” and they’re always

yelling it two seconds after

your near death slip off a curb.


This time, there was a follow up.

“You don’t want the Cruz Ambar to come!”


The Yellow Cross?

Let me explain.


In Mexico, everything is hot,

even the competition to get you on a stretcher.

The Cruz Roja got too big for its scrubs,

and some enterprising paramedic founded Cruz Ambar.


When the emergency airwaves squawk

about a person in distress,

the race is on.

Yellow. Red.

Which color runs fastest?

Which color gets paid?


Cruz Ambar wasn’t just second place during naming:

Their responders get second-rate training.

Their equipment’s out of date.

Yellow is the color of higher chance of infection

but – to be fair – it’s not the black of death.


If they arrive first to claim you, you can refuse care.

The Red Cross will be just minutes behind.

Unconscious, though, you are assumed colorblind.

Into the crayon box ambulance you go!


So perhaps yelling “¡AGUAS!” after someone’s close call

is less a tardy warning,

and more a grateful prayer on their behalf.

Today, they didn’t have to choose

between the primary and secondary colors of pain.


Jennie Saia


Jennie authors the blog Tip of My Tongue. By day, she works as the coordinator for a university writing program. She loves playing with ideas and has been known to follow her passions down some very colorful roads.


Bards’ Verdict:A fascinating poem, telling the story of a place and culture so many of us have no idea about. Beautifully told and filled with intense imagery. Bravo.

11 comments on “Guest Bards: Colorblind Emergencies

  1. zoebyrd says:

    wow! Is that true? I have heard Mexico is highly competitive for things such as medical care etc. but wow… really? Having been in an american ambulance a few times I cant honestly say concious or unconcious would have made a difference… this is sooo interesting. What an intriguing topic! Thanks for guest barding!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennie Saia says:

      Nice to meet you, Zoe! Thanks for letting me play on your site.

      And this interpretation is according to my ex, who was born and raised in Mexico. I know the Cruz Ambar exists, but all the bits about them being second-rate come straight from him. I tried a little fact-checking and didn’t get far… but what are facts when you’ve got a good story, right? 🙂


  2. […] Colorblind Emergencies, by Jennie Saia, via The Well Tempered Bards […]


  3. bethteliho says:

    No way! I’ve never heard of that. Why isn’t the yellow Amarillo? Is that an American Spanish word for yellow? Like what they teach kids in school, but not really what they say in Mexico?
    Anyway, great poem chica. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennie Saia says:

      Ambar translates to amber, so it’s a sexier way of saying yellow… y’know, like turqouise is fancier than blue. 😉 But usually, it’s amarillo all the way!

      Thanks for reading, m’dear.


  4. I LOVED the line about not having to chose between the primary and secondary colours of pain — my only critique is that colour has a U in it, darling. (Mu ha ha)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. […] invited me to write at The Well Tempered Bards, a poetry blog she co-hosts every week. Here’s a little sample and her “Bard’s […]


  6. BigLizzy says:

    Great poem, my friend. Such an interesting aspect of that culture. This is one of the coolest things about staying/living abroad. Thousands of little cultural idiosyncrasies creep in, surprise us, and change who we are with no effort. This is why I firmly believe that all Americans should study abroad somewhere. You just can’t get such a densely layered tapestry to one’s life without seeing what else is out there and partaking in daily life in another place. I love your writing so much. You bring it right down to the level of the heart and soul, sis. Nicely done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennie Saia says:

      Lizzy-love! I have missed you lately! Am I just missing you in my Reader, or have you been too busy have adventures to write much?

      Anyway, so good to see you, and thanks for this comment! I’m in complete agreement, and am angling to spend a year working/living abroad with my someday kids while they’re youngish, and then supporting them in studying abroad somewhere else when they’re old enough to choose the place. Mexico changed so much about who I am for the better, it gave me so many memories and slices of life-poetry… like you said, if you don’t travel, you can’t even begin to imagine all the things you don’t know!


  7. Samara says:

    I’ve fallen behind on my blog reading, and tonight I’m finally playing catch up. With your blog, first. I love this. Every bit of it. The story behind the words, the way you write, the use of colors, the COMMENTS even, and the fact that you’re playing on a site of Lizzi’s. What joy ❤



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