Various and Sundry Poetry

on waiting for the light to change

I am fascinated by the power of traffic lights. Amazed that each one of us, packed inside the little world of our cars, listening to different music, thinking our different thoughts, in love in with our different loves, living our different lives, would somehow manage to step outside all of this to follow the voiceless commands of a traffic light. That we could feel this grand, mutual allegiance to order, understand the intelligence of waiting, letting other people go, even when we're in a hurry, rushing to meet the doctor's appointment or the restaurant reservation or the first date, that we would put this all aside because we believe in and adhere to the little box that tells us when we're allowed to go. I wonder, sometimes, if we don't apply this compliance to areas of our lives that don't require this at all, if we go along only so far, only so long, before we need to wait and see if we've got the permission to continue. All I know is that funny thrill I get when I'm on foot, seeing the "no walking" sign but also seeing no traffic, checking to my left and right like a good girl, but seeing nothing. And then, because I've seen nothing, the delight of racing across the road, of disobeying the signs, or even my own embedded set of instructions. There's some molecule of instinct that must take over, washing over the whole of my body, lifting my eyes to the horizon of the other side, which had looked so far away before. That instinct somehow wins over order, and the urge to cross the big, bad road can't be undone by pixels in a box telling me to stay put, to stay safe. And it's only when I turn my gaze away from that blood-red hand telling me "no," when I don't wait for the light to change, that I set my own feet free.