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This poem is taken from PN Review 191, Volume 36 Number 3, January - February 2010.

Budapest Elaine Feinstein


Before the Soviet grip began to slacken
              - most conquerors go, eventually, even the Turks,
who whitewashed the frescoes in Matthias Church,
              leaving columns of Moorish terracotta -
I stayed at the Gellert, a spa hotel, with a green

nymph poised in the marble lobby. Below that floor
              hot springs, blue pools smelling of sulphur;
and an expressionless country girl waiting stolidly
              to pummel hotel guests in muddy water.
This city always beckoned stories from me;

I watched the porno cabaret beneath the Astoria,
              or sat in Gerbeau’s café in Vorosmarty.
Girls with shoes and handbags of matching leather
              sauntered past in a flirtatious party.
And I invented a history I might have shared,

a pink-lit past of velvet drapes, and corded

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