and I’m outside a café
in shorts and t-shirt.
I circle in the road
towards a shuffled approach.
The gentleman inside…
he has the spitting image
of a John Smith’s belly
and a ‘tache that’d fare well at darts.
He saunters across the tiles
and then starts collecting menus.
I enquire – half English, half Spanish –
and he welcomes – half smiling, half sighing –
and in walking towards the service point,
he beckons me inside.
In all his weary nights,
I bet he never deemed this poetic.
Aside from two locals on Coca-Cola,
I’m the only punter in sight.
I widen my eyes for a nod of approval
to reach inside the fridge:
grasping a beer, and 1.5l of water.
The bartender sails across her
freshly swept tiles
before leaning towards tiptoes
at the till.
I speak in Spanish,
and she responds in English.
This trend is never broken.
I gaze into the neon
as I suck on my Corona:
this morning I woke up in Grimsby,
so I’m struggling to adjust.
Black ashtrays, white tables,
black chairs and silent streets.
I manage to earwig
about 5% of their conversation.
I’m pretty sure
they’re slagging off the chef.
But as the hombre lobs his towel
over his shoulder,
the bartender hums to Manu Chao
as she skirts back over the tiles,
and I slowly peel the label
from my bottle:
all three of us are united,
and utterly alone,
in the most comfortable of silences
I think I’ve ever known.