When we stepped out of the cold
into the café with the fish tank
I guess I must have asked
the row of smiling waiters
for triple brandies, not just three –

which probably accounts
for the scale of my later triumph
at finding the restaurant,
and Anton’s sudden expertise
in the regional cuisine,

but nothing quite accounts
for the look on that guy’s face
in his tiny karaoke bar
who genuinely seemed to enjoy
our version of Bohemian Rhapsody,

or the kindness of the taxi driver
in his cap and white gloves
who couldn’t find our ryokan
and switched off the meter
as we circled the freezing streets.

Note: ryokan = traditional Japanese inn.

© Mark McGuinness, first published in Oxford Poetry XVI.III

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