Driving #1

by Brendan Strong

Friday of a Bank holiday
LUAS from work to Tallaght hospital
Drunks stagger in
And wonder where their stop is
Abbey Street and the Four courts
And Smithfield and the Museum
And Heuston and suddenly they’re all gone.

The rest of us
Released from offices
Looking for our own
Stops. “Pints?”
We ask our phones. Pushing buttons
To release us all from the week.

My car is in the building
Beyond the kids
Throwing fag buts and beer cans to the ground
Beside the bin.
The woman in front of me walks nervously
I think because I am walking behind her.
I slow down, watch my breath steam
In the chill dark evening.

Pay the day’s parking and curse the distance from here
To the M50 to the M1 to Ardee then all the way to Derry
Pop across the border from there then Home.

I roll a cigarette but don’t smoke it
Because of my daughter’s chest.

Onto the roads, turning right
Turning left. Guessing my way
Out of Tallaght toward the M50
Toward my wife and child in Donegal
Pushing buttons to ask me
“Have you left yet?”

Finally, onto the M50.
And back off at the next exit
Down the wrong way on the Naas road
turning back round for the petrol station
Because it’s the only one whose location
I’m definite of.

I pay for my petrol but pull across
To the parking spaces where
I jump out for that smoke
And drink bad coffee I just bought.

A young lad in a car asks
“What are you looking for?”
I tell him nothing and his friend says
“What are you looking at?”
Invitation to something unknown.
Dark shadows cast from bright lights.