Discovering Hungarian in Budapest

Chain Link Bridge, Budapest

Chain Link Bridge, Budapest

1. At West End Mall
Up Radnoti Miklos utca, street named after the Hungarian Jewish poet
who died in labor camps months before liberation
in a city that volunteered Jews to Nazi death
ancestral home to parents who squeezed their way
past two World Wars to meet in New York City’s immigrant hot-house.

I am looking to answer a question I have carried in a stone sack
within me for  years, ransack a pastry shop and allow
poppy seeds, sugar, and lemon peel to fill my mouth, and like a moth
drawn to the lightest of things move toward West End Mall’s three floors
of stores sit next to a statuesque ice-cream cone adorned with a red cherry
finish pastries and watch men and women belong to each other as I

try to break the code of this strange language
whispered in my infant ears.

2. Near the Chain Link Bridge
I wear a badge of pure white,
a strand that expanded to a tell-tale swatch,
my grandmother Lenke’s mark on me,
not the yellow star pinned to a sleeve.

She did not have to wear that, entered Ellis Island
pregnant with my Aunt Clara, bastard child
who revealed the secret on her death bed,
how Lenke was stranded alone

banned to the United States
to give birth to a baby, her sister’s bindle
tucked inside a sewing machine.
Lenke’s parents saved three lives, but not their own.

They say by the time she reached 30
her hair gleamed as white as enamel,
and when she baked, she set out her cakes 
with cloth and napkins.

I looked for her, my namesake,
my missing chain link
suspended over the Danube
running down my spine

and when the pot-bellied waiter
came to my side and winked twice,
my mouth opened up in Hungarian,
and he knew what I wanted.

Buy my book, The Golem

Links to my work

The Amazonian

About Lenore Weiss

Lenore's collections include "Tap Dancing on the Silverado Trail" (2011) from Finishing Line Press, “Sh’ma Yis’rael” (2007) from Pudding House Publications, and "Cutting Down the Last Tree on Easter Island" (West End Press, 2012). Her writing has won recognition from Poets&Writers (finalist in California Voices contest) and as a finalist for Pablo Neruda Prize, Nimrod International Journal. The Society for Technical Communication has recognized her work regarding Technical Literacy in the schools. All material is copyrighted on this site and cannot be used without the author's permission.
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