I have been here just, not quite, long enough
for the harsh chat of magpies to seem common
also black headed gulls, mute swans
and orphans with parents.
Everyday conversations contain
sentences that begin in Slovak
and end in Hungarian.
Old men arriving on bicycles
gather in coats and hats
in tight companionable circles
at one end of the mall or after midday
in the steamy waters of the thermal baths
while light snow peppers their naked talk.
The turn of the season finds me eating
but not pronouncing zmrzlina –
its seven consonants and one vowel
on my monolingual tongue.
The sun has translated all the ice floes
back into river.
I only need two hands
to count the days to leaving
as the bridge tempts me to graffiti
the immutable present tense …