Nice Has Become a Suburb of Edinburgh

by Ron Butlin

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 citycentre 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.

Saying goodbye, brings us closer than ever before.