Ode to Traffic by Emma Richman

Red flare after red flare
You engulf me in the sea of crimson
I fall for you every 5pm
As the interstate soaks up the final ray of gold
You arrive in rosy effervescence
As the sign says I’m a mile away
But you make one minute into ten
Overruling the laws of coming and going
Our time together is lengthy
Though our conversations can scarcely be heard
In the crowd of screaming children
Crying and shrieking for the sake of making noise
But we’re all tired, aren’t we?
The cars don’t drive north on I-684 for nothing
Searching for relief from the city that never sleeps
You leave them alone in their fumes and exhaust
You came from the smokestacks
The textiles and tanks
The babies that wailed
The locomotives that drove them away
Up north, searching for a black sky with gemstones
Rarely seen through the rising gray fumes
Or the crested black cement and white dotted lines
Of what is never inconsequential
You give us pause
To look through tinted glass
To find another human on the inside
A commuter tap, tap, tapping on the wheel
His wrinkled gaze meets mine in a moment’s connection
Disrupted by a chain reaction
Eyes of garnet finally shut
At your slumber, we both awaken
Rejoicing in deliverance
As Moses parts the sea
A final exit from the scarlet haze

Bounding at top speed
Into a sunless hour
Absent of gold and seldom ruby
The picture fades to black and white
Far from your breathless crowd of machines

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