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It is not the winter-grey Danube flowing –

hundreds of feet below – fast to Budapest,

nor the suspension bridge – with its high rise

circular restaurant – commemorating

the failed uprising against the Nazis,

nor the outline of the Vienna Alps

fifty miles away, nor the wind turbines

covering the plain between, but the concrete

Soviet era apartment blocks

now painted white and some in pastel shades

that first catch the eye from this stronghold

on a rocky hill far above the town

on the second day of 2018.

This must be Europe’s centre: liberated,

Catholic, polyglot; in Magyar,

German, Slovak; Pozsonyi Vár,

Pressburger Schloss, Bratislavsky Hrad.


As we descend the narrow, cobbled street

that turns with the hill’s contours, gusts of wind

whirl into the air small strips of gold paper,

detritus of New Year’s Eve celebrations,

and a party of Australian tourists

comes round the corner their resolute guide’s

tartan umbrella flapping unsafely.




The runway faces east so the plane

must bank westwards to fly by Vienna,

Prague, London to land at Manchester.

On the right are the Little Carpathians

with vineyards on the slopes and at their heart

wildernesses of beasts and plants still intact –

left, below, river, castle, tower blocks

reduced to perfection.




© Copyright David Selzer

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