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Formerly Buda’s town hall, courthouse, prison

and school, newly refurbished throughout

and re-named The House of Wisdom, it is now

bookshop, café, bistro, conference centre

and an esoteric museum –

in an eclectic city of museums

ranging from Marzipan through to Murder.

The refurbishment finally repaired

all the damage done by stray Red Army

artillery shells, and uncovered stonework –

exhibited behind glass now – not seen

since the Ottoman Empire ruled Hungary.


Eschewing the conundrum of hailing a cab –

by law all Budapest taxis are yellow

but not all yellow taxis are legal –

we waited for the bus on Castle Hill

to take us to our Pest apartment hotel,

near where the Nazis walled the Ghetto.

I thought how, unlike the rest of Europe,

the British have no living memories –

vestiges of checkpoints or watchtowers,

grandparents’ anecdotes, camps – of invasion,

occupation, totalitarian rule.


That night I dreamt I was five, and in Pest

not in the flat near Golders Green.

There were muffled shouts from the courtyard.

‘They are coming for the Jews.’ When I woke

I saw snow had fallen. On the balcony

a blackbird was hopping, its feet marks

criss-crossed like trellis. The bird looked at the glass,

its yellow beak shining.




© Copyright David Selzer
1 Response
  • Alan Horne
    January 31, 2020

    Great move to the perspective of the blackbird at the end.

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