First, this is a poem to say thank you
for taking me back to Budapest.
The world is a small and strange place.
It had only been three years.
Of course, I told you everything.
My carefree words weaved a web around the city,
(An easy task, it’s a modest place)
And you listened to each one.
“This is the taste of pogasca.
This is the scent of the evening on the Duna.
This is the way the tram feels,
When it makes the sharp turn after Filotorigat.”
This is where I got on a plane to find nothing I recognized.
This is where I ran everyday because I needed to forget.
This is where I finally found some courage
and called you long-distance
and said “I have this crazy idea
about New York City. I have this crazy idea
I know we will leave Brooklyn, of course.
You dream of a home in the country or the mountains.
Such is your nature.
And maybe you haven’t been here long enough to realize
New York herself dreams of leaving.
Such is her nature.
This means one day we will return to Brooklyn.
And I wonder —
Who will we bring along, this time?
Our daughter, perhaps, will wander the streets like we did,
Peering curiously down subway grates and wondering
If the spiced nuts on the street taste as good as they smell.
Will I tell her how I learned to count my blessing on my walk to work?
Will I tell her about dodging the men who lined up outside the clinic every morning?
The smell of the sidewalk when it rained?
Where the freshest produce is?
The deferred dream of Spring?
Will I find my old apartments, break the locks,
rebuild the furniture, stand in the once-living space and declare
“This is where we once made tortilla chips and burnt most of them!”
“This is where we broke the french press!”
Will I tell her about the rooftops?
That very first bedroom I came to love and then despise
The noise from the bus stop drowning your voice on the phone.
How I fell asleep and counted my blessings.
(By the way, the first was always you. The second was the fact that I live here.)
“This is where I did all the things I thought I couldn’t do.”
I told you this is Budapest.
May Brooklyn be that way for you.
(This is a poem to say thank you.)