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E Wen Wong


məˈdrɑːs, məˈdras/
1. a strong cotton fabric with colourful stripes or checks.
2. a street in Christchurch Central, New Zealand.

A one-way street
in the inner city,
nestled between the roars of
daily happenings, decisions and
Hidden from the rumbles of
national politics and
international disputes,
Madras wears stripes
of red
and black.

It’s still early, but there’s
a modest bustling of motorists,
stretching across the heart
of the city,
racing to beat the morning rush.
Cars crowd the narrow lane,
spitting toxic fumes
with every drift across the asphalt,
for new road signs to
the traffic.

In their cars,
they hear the distant hum
of a puzzled mind,
the stutters and echoes,
mad swerves across the centre line.
They see pedestrians standing
by the white chairs,
looking out across the Avon, 
walking across the
holding folded maps,
stripes and checks.

They watch the
cautious movement of
hard hat helmets,
bobbing down Manchester.
They watch the
metronome beats of
passing time –
The Piano on Armagh.

But here,
on this one-way street,
I am lost, too shy
to take one step further,
I am alone, stuck     between
two road      cones,
in a parking lot
on Madras.

E Wen Wong is fifteen years old and lives in Christchurch. She began writing poetry and prose from a young age, and has had her work featured in Printable Reality, Rattle and Brief Anthologies, among others. She is also on the committee of the New Zealand Poetry Society.