River. Bank. Low tide. Swollen stretch marked skinned bellies of mud, silvered mirrors reflecting the sky, river and land so it is difficult to know where each element begins and ends. Rows of teeth, rotten wooden pegs slurp the dish grey tea twice a day, slaking their eel worn gums, cursing the bladderwrack boils that grout the gaps. A curlew cries, new moon bird of sickle bill, slices a sliver of itself through the flat lands of slow passage.
A keen north wind blows street sweepers and the weekend’s litter from the funfair past shuttered shops on an early Monday morning, past the Smugglers Inn promising karaoke, down to the harbour and shipyard. An enormous crane with two prancing horses emblazened on its yellow cab rattles its chains. Rusting hulks of vessels moor at the old pier while the former fabrication shed now servicing a decomissioning company shows little sign of life at this hour. The public road ends at a dentist. The sign says – ‘International smiles’. I ponder this as a blonde woman emerges, her hair wispy, soft in the wind in contrast to the tamed, coiled submarine cables, wound on giant bobbins of steel. Beyond, a graveyard for marine buoys, barnacle encrusted, paint salt faded, they lie at odd angles, defunct, silent, dead like the once busy canteen where breakfast cereal boxes still lie on the dust covered tables in an aching gloom. I sit on a bench watching an occasional dance of an orange boiler suit and hard hat. Swifts carve out the air, as an Easyjet plane hovers over the Forth waiting for its slot to land. Behind, the city of Edinburgh hunkers under the hills, grey and more grey today bearing its northern soul of east coast introspection. I try a drawing to see how it feels and walk back through the town past a wee boy giggling with his grannie, carrying a yellow bucket and spade, past the candy floss stall waiting for business to pick up.