Western centre: dirty public toilets,
Mercedes’ star, Hochhäuser, café parasols,
the curve of shopping streets, the Hollow Tooth:
one big city, one big toothless smile.
The shops still open; almost four—how long
can Saturday be? Every day the dark,
wandering people fading from the light
around the endless shabby human market,
down the Ku’damm, up to KaDeWe,
off to find the S-Bahn or the bus.
Beyond the circular low parapet,
divided lawns; light that sweeps the grass
keeps back the people, crams them into benches
hiding under trees. A breath of shadow.
How can houses point in all directions,
when the great white spark attracts the face,
draws all to face it, bends light itself
about a tenuous accretion disk, flicks the ray
across the street, or clear behind the bushes?
Turn your back; the centre’s somewhere else.
Higher still, the Fernsehturm—the golf ball,
and the spike, far-seeing tower—proclaims
eternal truths, since twenty-something channels
couldn’t all be sending passing lies.
Neptune’s waiting for a passer-by
who’s close enough to spear; the children
in the fountain are too small to cook for
such a godhead’s dinner. Something’s missing;
though sitting in the sun is pleasant, there’s
no sight nor sound of Triton’s wreathed horn.
pulls out. The pool counts ripples to
the Château’s edge; a nixie sitting
on the ledge beyond the fence for solitude
laments her stolen gold in silence.
The dog that bounds down from the bridge
is always bound in memory, but bounds away.
Only the flagstaff’s left to see above
the parapet, the bear and stripes. Ich
bin doch kein Berliner; the Inselvolk
follow the clouds, avoid the midday sun.
Peter Stephenson 4/8/1996