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22nd July 2020

Author: Julia Carman

Today in Portobello
by the sea
we are
socially distanced
outside
the Beach House Cafe.

I want to smile
at babies, pat dogs
but strangers remain
strangers.
Facemasks are
worn, or only put on
when someone shuffles
to the window.

Soon we will sit in again,
the world
is opening up again
but today I take
my coffee from
the serving-hatch
and tear open the
sugar packet, stir
with a wooden stirrer,
return the flimsy
plastic lid, with a little bit of effort,
onto the corrugated cup
which I caress
like a memory
as I look out
across the Forth (calm as ever).

I cling
to what feels normal
(the same aroma of coffee).
I find a space
on the sea wall.
It suddenly turns chilly,
it might rain – just my luck!
But the sun escapes the black cloud
and a busker starts to play
‘The Girl From Ipanema’.
Smiling, listening, breathing
I am more like my old self
only different in a way
I cannot yet explain.