Four Ways to Fold a Map – Poem

In central Reading, where I lived for fifteen years, there is a crossroads which is the only one in Britain where a street meets a lane, an avenue and a road.

For those suddenly inspired by this fact, it’s the Katesgrove Lane, Pell Street, Berkeley Avenue and Elgar Road junction.

A sudden flight of fancy led me to imagine things appearing in fours. One thing led to another, and this was the result.

 

Four Ways to Fold a Map

I was standing at the crossroads

Where a street met a lane, an avenue and a road.

First it rained, the sun came out,

There was a storm and then it snowed.

 

A plane flew overhead. A lorry followed a car

That carried a bicycle on a roofrack.

A child went by on rollerblades.

A dog went by chasing a cat.

 

The cat followed a mouse

That followed its nose.

I put on a hat, coat, opened an umbrella,

Slipped on some gloves for good measure. I couldn’t feel my toes.

 

I heard a car radio,

A personal stereo, a mobile phone.

Even a policeman’s walkie-talkie bellowed.

The policeman followed a postman,

 

A milkman, a newspaper delivery boy.

Someone swept leaves,

Spring cleaned,

Sneezed in the sun, but as if it was winter, I froze.

 

On one corner there was a postbox.

On the other a telephone box. There was a lamp post,

A no-entry sign. It was one-way, no stopping, no U-turns.

The traffic lights changed. The traffic flowed.

 

I opened a map to match street names.

A raindrop marked the crossroads in a fold.

How would I get to where I was going?

Then it dawned like a snowstorm. The map was old.

 

I had to face it I was lost. There was a new roundabout,

A flyover, a bypass and a ring-road.

First it rained, the sun came out,

There was a storm and then it snowed.

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