DIRECTIONS by Judie Maré
I found my way to the city center
following the cathedral spire in.
Manchester's high street led to gothic arches,
steeple, and stout wooden doors
opening on a dark, deadly-quiet nave with
pillared side aisles.
I came looking for a pulpit, an altar, a pew
of meaningful peace. I didn't
have a prayer how to find my way out.
I found my auto in the car park,
its pay-and-display ticket, magnified
in the windshield of sun,
lay expired on the dashboard. One way
streets and blaring horns honked hot,
impatient at my tentative directional ignorance.
They knew I was a tourist.
Like spaghetti, the winding streets twisted back on me,
glaring in the sauce of midday rush,
lost in this sauté pan of traffic.
I must find the road out of town,
flee before the fire of being lost forever
takes me for a ride.
Asking directions to the ring road from my rolled-down window
awarded me "You can't get there from here" answers.
I trusted a bright red Royal Mail truck to outskirts
with fewer cars and open roads.
I often wonder what happened to people who asked me
for directions, if they reached their destinations―
Oh Lord, will I be held accountable, if they didn't arrive,
by some glove-handed cop,
center of the intersection, waving us forward?
If the highway to heaven, although narrow,
is labyrinthine, signs for all directions lead nowhere,
mean nothing without a pointing spire
and the tongue of a sure arrow.