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in collection Rue du Regard, 2004, DC Books, ISBN 0-919688-11-X


After the Orient Express


After the Orient Express, eighteen hours of sleeping car,

I disembarked in Budapest, passed the Zimmer Frei

ladies and their ham-fisted pitches, made my way to our

old address, looked for a sticker, with the name reversed:


Egan Sara, the custom in Hungarian, but it’d been peeled

off; tried the door, knowing it would be locked now.

Something small gave, likely broken, then I was inside

the long green-grey hallway with its retrograde air.


I took the elevator to the fourth floor, memory allied

to base curiosity: we never knew who had followed us.

To read other lives through a blank door requires skills

I am not allowed: it presented exactly the remembered


image, the same cracked version they’d built you after

the elegant one had been kicked in one morning

by that junkie looking for pills.  Nameplates on

the other three doors of the landing were each new;


I couldn’t ring.  The entire area, carelessly, was you

and not.  As I rarely did, I took all the stairs down,

stopping at a calendar with its magnetic red square

around this day, two years from when we were here


last.  Nothing to relate in all this, but that well-worn

sense that love is most a presence when it’s moved

to a shelf we can’t quite reach any more.  So, I cried.

It was as if you had already died and gone to Heaven.


Todd Swift

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Todd Swift photophoto by Derek Adams


poetry favourites:
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collections - "Budavox",
"Café Alibi"
"Rue du Regard",
DC Books
CD - "The Envelope, Please", Wired on Words

anthology:  "100 Poets Against the War"

CD anthology: "Life Lines:  Poets for Oxfam"


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