Friday Poem

A Unified Berlin

The Junior Minister waved a hand
…………………….. toward the courtyard where, he said,
………………………………… Goering’s private lion used to live.
………………..…… With him we climbed Parliament’s steps,

walls pockmarked still with bullet holes.
……………………..In the conference room the Social Democrats
………………………………… passed trays of petit fours and coffee.
……………………..We were perhaps insufficient, he said.

His voice, uninflected: they shipped
……………………..my father to Stalingrad. Forty days
………………………………… and dead. In the room,
……………………..the transcriptionist, the translator,

and security stationed against
……………………..the wall. Some time passed.
………………………………… In East Germany, he said, at least
……………………..it was always terrible. Bad luck, he said,

to be on that side of the wall. Even
……………………..the apples were poison. We were
………………………………… to understand this was a little joke.
……………………..He brought the teacup to his mouth,

but did not drink. His fingernails
……………………..were tapered and very clean.
………………………………… When you are the victim, he said,
……………………..it doesn’t matter who is killing you.

by Ann Townsend
from Poets.org

 

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