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

melting sweetly

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 …