Postcard from Berlin
This city steals my stomach, block after block – spiraling stairs, glass-domed Reichstadt haunted by blonde-haired ghosts, black wings and swastikas, mirrored axis of this spiral dream-vision illuminating the most feared Parliament in Europe – bombed-out church hunched like a crippled vet with a tin cup – Checkpoint Charlie Museum, gray grained photos, people shot by countrymen, a man left to bleed to death wrapped in barbed wire, dark escape tunnels of Bernauerstrasse – I walk up open stairways, down halls of a bombed-out no-façade building where homeless artists have made beds and studios for 40 years, sold sketches on brown paper bags (50 Deutsch Marks), hawked beer and schnapps from a makeshift broken-plank bar.
“It was not sex, it was not joy, it was something else, something I cannot say – when the Wall came down” says Jergen, 60-year-old tour guide Berliner, his teeth knocked out in an East Berlin prison – as a young student reported for something said in a café over cold coffee, among friends. I buy a cement chip of the Wall with authentic, they say, hints of graffiti paint…to remember Jerg and his thin hippie beard.
from the kettle’s belly