On a snowy January Saturday
we were delayed for six hours or so
at Ferenc Liszt airport, Budapest.
Except for the purchase of a Pick sausage
and a small box of Gerbeaud chocolates
in Heinemann Travel Value/Duty Free
we spent our time in the Leroy Bistro
with its international fast food cuisine
from nigiri sushi to Wiener Schnitzel.
From my seat in the bistro I could see
continually an advert, a fifteen
by forty feet video with, on the left,
Budapest’s Chain Bridge superimposed
on its Parliament with the Danube bluely
flowing beneath and blue bird sky above
stretching to the right, from east to west,
as the river’s embankment became
China’s Great Wall, and the slogan read
in red ‘Bank of China Always With You’.
We watched, as day darkened into night,
flakes change from grey to white then stop,
and perimeter lights become sharp.
Snow ploughs cleared the runway, planes took off
to Amsterdam, Istanbul, Tel-Aviv –
from this terminal of ironies, with its
foreign investors and its destinations,
in this nation obsessed still with ‘racial
hygiene’ and yet in which so very much
of Eurasia has miscegenated.
We were the penultimate flight to leave.
While we taxied to the runway we saw
the last flight – for Moscow – being boarded.
As we flew west I thought of the other craft’s
rapid journey over distances
the Magyar tribes took many years to cross –
and that, beyond the broadest tract of land
untempered by the sea, the sun was rising
on the Bank of China.