Carol Hamilton

Berlin Stories

In November the winds blow in from the Baltic
marching abreast down the length of the Ku' damm,

tossing up handbills and candy-bar wrappers,
past the Gedächtniskirche, through the Zoo.

Political exiles, they headed south
to sip cognac together in claw-footed bathtubs

and kiss on the rocks overlooking the harbor.
When he thinks of her now, he recalls with regret

the texture and sheen of her skin.

Er starb in dem Mieswetter, sighed the widow.
For the winds are implacable. Late at night

she hears them batter the massive front door
like a black-gloved fist: Machen Sie auf!

In the U-Bahn, graffiti: Wir wollen das Reich!
and then in red letters, Nazis 'raus! The passengers rock

through the bruised, felonious sleep of a tunnel.

Sad, sadder, saddest, the children chant,
staring sleepily out of the classroom window

at the golden sword of the Siegessäule,
and the streets named after despotic rulers

as darkness plunders the visible world
and trains plunge into the sea.