• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 03
Image by

A Table at The Blighty Café

I’m sitting at one of four tables
designated for smokers. Outdoors.
I’m drinking thick hot chocolate.
I don’t smoke.

And I’m watching a woman who’s
watching me. She’s lean. Slim.
Bracelet-thin. Not quite pretty.
Unless you admire narrow bracelets.

She’s … maybe thirty, maybe married,
maybe body piercings. Belly button.
The sort who has all her documents
in order, and for her next trick – she’ll

set about organising the universe.
All of it, including the blue sky caught
behind the sun, caught there thrashing
about on the horizon, like a landed fish.

She probably solves problems, too;
plastics and policies, plastic policies,
and recycling. She’s a think-tank of ideas …
ideas, but not enough time. You see,

I watch people. It’s acceptable to do that
in Europe. That’s why there’s so many
outdoor cafés. Smokers have the best seats.
As a kid, Dad always slapped me up the head


A Table at The Blighty Café

for watching people, shouting “Don’t stare,”
always shouting, just in case the people I
watched didn’t know my eyes were fixed
on them. And I’ve noticed that women

watch other women. We're more interesting
(than men) to watch; we're like a DIY book.
And women ring true, at least the ones that
I watch do. Yet, there’s something about us

that doesn’t come clean in the wash.
We women, we like being a bit askew.
At least, I do. I sometimes feel weedy. I’m
nature’s own joke when the wheels came off.

I was never of childbearing age, God’s plan,
empowerment to find my children beyond
my unplumbed womb. Women are family.
We’re a cohesive and resourceful lot.

I look into the bottom of my empty cup,
a puddle of chocolate gone cold, and glance
up at the bracelet-thin woman. She grins
at me — and taps the side of her nose.

As if she thinks she’s created every thought
that’s in my head. Perhaps she did.