West coast, ten a.m., a table on my own. Two young women, rucksacks, edge-of-the-world hair, are chatting
over porridge. One wears a bandanna – last night, blue Aladdin trousers, skin like autumn, dark spikes like an unlit fire,
she looked at me. She sees me looking now, her slim arms pausing on the place mat
as her friend sprays oats from laughing. The sea behind is quiet, unrushed. Sun ebbs on my shoulder.
A lucky penny, she presses it into my hand, I’m passing it along. Her eyes are green like bottles sent to sea, and steady.
She smiles like she knows everything – turns, collects her rucksack, ripples from the room.
The coin’s worn, the Queen’s face is a Spanish peasant’s, the portcullis just a shadow. All the lives it’s blessed,
all the reasons it’s been handed on – the way she vanished through the front door like the echo of a gong.