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Home at Last, God Almighty, Home at Last

Home at Last, God Almighty, Home at Last

Biljana D. Obradović

Visiting my parents in Budapest, Summer 1994

Three roses from the Embassy garden
wait for me, Dad cut them in the morning
before coming to pick me up at the airport;
little European flower bugs are on them,
all natural, all real. Mom cut her hair,
permed it; her arm is swollen, lymphedemic;
hard like a knee, or Donna's pregnant stomach,
three times the regular size; she waits with tears of joy.
I spot them from the luggage area - they are smiling.
I am jumping, waving - I hit a luggage cart, am in pain,
but don't feel it, joy is stronger at this time.

A beautiful new Mercedes pulls up, a young man exits,
introduces himself, picks up my luggage, piles it inside,
we drive off, in style. The city is gray, the cars - old,
Eastern European, but also newly acquired Western cars.
The architecture dilapidated, end of 19th century,
plaster falling off everywhere - only the newly erected
neon signs like Sanyo shine, foreign capital has invaded
this country in place of the Soviet, Eastern bloc communism.

At home we drink slivovitz, coffee, from shot glasses, Turkish cups.
We eat tomatoes that taste like tomatoes, white cheese from Serbia,
Hungarians don't have it either. Mom sips Palenka,
the Hungarian brandy, just to cheer with us.
We eat a specialty noodle soup, Serbian, the kind I haven't had in
three and a half years,
then stuffed peppers, Mom style.
They taste so good! Outside the trams echo on the tracks, passing, ringing their bells.

The shower boiler is gas - I nearly scorch my hair
on the open flame, exposed, as it is.

Prairie Schooner, Vol. 71, No. 3 (Fall 1997), p. 109