Nicole Lee

Twinkly Lights

Temporary Traffic Lights

It took twenty minutes to do six miles

and another twenty minutes to do a quarter


My whole life is temporary traffic lights

and candy-striped temporary bike lanes


The string of cars moves along modestly

No one sounds their horn


We sit in traffic; it’s restful

bikes weave around us


The council has strung

fairy lights across the trees


There’s a cliff of buses up ahead

I let one out it flashes Thanks


The radio burbles Win a million pounds

No repeat guarantee text us 50p


Someone is attempting a three point turn

in traffic schoolgirls cross in the lacuna


I check my watch I’m so late

it’s not even funny I’m on to Plan C


An emergency vehicle comes up behind

Someone inside no doubt is dying


It’s a grey winter’s day nearly night

I’m waiting at a temporary traffic light


and time is standing still and also flying


Clarke's Bar. Dundas Street

Saturday mid-afternoon.

A French bulldog called Archie

who approaches

waits patiently then

without invitation jumps

up on the banquette and leans

his head on my damp arm

snuffling the wool.

-- Are ye OK there? --

Sky sport on the large screen.

A half of Guinness

on the scored sticky

black wood.

Clunk of kegs in the area.

A moment. Archie breathing.

His rough variegate coat.

His solidity.

Somewhere in the building

a door opens and closes.

A brief blare of music.

Nicole Lee was born in Kuala Lumpur and educated at Malvern and Oxford. She has worked as a banker in Hong Kong and London and now lives in Wandsworth, works in Kew and writes poetry.