Nicole Lee

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.

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