Ghosts of Budapest

They drift across the city
like clouds reflected in a lake.
You come upon them
when you least expect to,
wedged in the evening crowds
of spiked hair and leather pants,
asleep on benches by the Opera
or makeshift mattresses
under the arcades.

Covered by yesterday’s paper
on a sunny day in the park,
sitting by a classic fountain
with a sheet pulled over
their heads,
holding a cardboard sign
scrawled in a language
you can’t make sense of,
clutching the hand of
a frowning child
with pockmarked cheeks.

Bowing like penitents
with their hats between their hands,
rummaging in the plastic bins
on Fashion Street,
ignored by
the few remaining tourists
who, sated with plum cake
and brandy,
trace their way back
to their elderdown blankets
and soft antique lights.

(originally published in The Germ)






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