Nice Has Become a Suburb of Edinburgh

I was having a last drink with a friend at the very moment

a truck was being driven down a faraway hillside.

 

I left the bar to find the city-centre deserted –

No trams, no buses, no pedestrians and all the shop doors

standing wide open. Everyone had gone to Nice

to see the fireworks.

 

My friend was dying of cancer. We’d said goodbye,

and I was setting off across the city as the truck

approached la Promenade des Anglais.

 

He’d been given two years at most. No more consultations,

no more tests. I was putting my key in the door when

the truck started its zigzag carnage through men,

women and children, continuing

to crush them under its wheels as I climbed

the stairs to our top floor flat.

 

My friend had looked tired, hesitant, but his parting

handclasp had been sure.

 

Princes Street. La Promenade des Anglais.

From today it’s only a short walk from one to the other.

 

When we say goodbye, we feel closer than ever before.

unpublished poem, ? Ron Butlin 2017, used by permission of the author

Ron Butlin in the Poetry Store

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