Monday, August 1, 1994

Budapest, 1994

I play roulette with numbers for grandmothers from the east that I never had; it’s all in my head. But not the numbers. Say them: 19, 45, 56, 68. Lottery or is it roulette? To be at home and at rest among the rubble. 

Anna Kiss wrote how the fields became sad when they took away the men. The wind told her. After the war everything became unfamiliar to the survivors, and we, all of us alive today, are survivors of war. Shell-shock, our inheritance. László said Anna was once so beautiful, he was shocked, she was a witch, a hagm he said.

Postcards from a massed grave. Franz Josef, WWI, Trianon, and the white terror of WWII. A generation without farewell, we were born into the world old. The politics of winter changes its mind, but the storyline remains unchanged. Snow, a symbol of the old guard mired in the mud, scent of leaves rooms filled with collected shadow mausoleums of the mind. 

Margít Island stripped bare of her trees. The soul scratching on the eyes of death. Sand, groin of the Donau, I can still see the soldiers. Occupation in any country, trees dumfounded by the fall. Escaped breath in winter’s kingdom. 

Who reads the words off dove’s beaks, tulips, summer’s convulsive mouth. We hold our breath for the dead. Beds unmade by the sunlight. We drink Bull’s Blood, I think of Sandor Csóori’s fingertips blooming in the graveyards of resurrection.

Maybe in this forest someone stabbed a girl made of wax. Scorched voice of the candle flame. Who was talking about angels? I have not had to measure my life by the firing of guns, or the bearing of a son. The winter death of my father buries me until mid summer. My weapon is pen, film and paint. Who can speak all the names of the dead?

In dreams I find myself wandering along the Danube, wondering whose life is living through me. Forints in the ash tray. I don’t smoke. Someone said, “Spiders are drawn to music.” They bite me when I move my poetry books, I become ill for the caretaking of words. 

The leaf-hands of autumn knitted the smoke-laden sky’s sweater. I can learn to live with the departure and loss as a way of life. There is no other choice. I have never swam in the warm lake waters of Balatan, nor measured the circumference of Szentendre Island, my notebooks having drowned in the thermal pools of Secheny Baths. 

August, 1994

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