Friday, October 26, 2007


The rich as always breathe
the cleanest air up here where the sky
smiles on oaks and elms
greening Schwab Hill
as far as the finest walking boots
can take you.

Sylvan shrines to wayfarer
saints, lovers on benches
along blue-chicoried tracks,
recently liberated angels
fending off imaginary danger
in the country park
where the old man hires out his crates
of toys to the poorer
families up here on the bus
for a few Sunday hours closer to heaven

drably dressed, pushing their
secondhand pushchairs, taking in
the haze of the Danube far below:
a city forever recovering, a steady
optimism undampened even by
pools of sorrow down on Andrassy.

Pelotons of cyclists spin past
the electric gates of Hotel Normafa,
ten buses an hour ferry faces
up and down these soaring hills
until the sun peels away, dusk
lopes in like a bad dog
crossing the bridges that stitch
this city together.

Light bleeds fast
down these huge boulevards
but the ornate facades of Pest no longer
fear the night.

As taxis weave their diesel webs
over the river up into Buda
the road gets steeper
the granite less staunch
until the lights below are
glitter on a dressing room floor,
until the chic chalet-mansions of
Normafa serrate the hill’s edge.

Silence, balm: the stars kiss
the forest as it closes its last flowers
for another night while down by the river
a million tenants in 60s tenements
dare to dream the democratic dream.

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