Pandemic, on the rocks

By Juliette Bretan

Pandemic, on the rocks
perching on the sea wall
around the rim of a thermos
before a half-bitten amusement sign
a smell like stale coffee in the air 
and my face, worn by sand-studs 

there was little hope left, even now;
the picnic on the floor lapped up by
the shivering velcro mud, the grolly of the
sand sliding like freckles

here, still, the 
flotsam of the plague came and went
raised a hand, waved, then toppled back 
into the brown-green brine, 

as the blue curaçao sea 
now coffee-coloured, chiselled
to curls of tempered chocolate, in the sun 

it carried far, a splash of sea, almost human
I pictured the jagged rivulets as varicose veins 
let the water run over, stumble,
as the tiny skeletal backbones of the land
pressed back,
then disappeared, as did my vision 

the sky, the sea so wobbly
nothing lasted on the mastic shore

beyond, the windmills spun sluggish, 
and opposite, 
the amusement sign, as always, flashed

and I turned away, 
thought of the end,
the spine of a sardine between my lips 

Juliette Bretan is a writer and journalist. She covers culture and current affairs, mainly focusing on Poland and Central Eastern Europe, and has previously been published in The Independent, Ozy, New Eastern Europe and, among others.

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