10 June 2009

Streets of Berlin

Streets of Berlin

No matter how hard you scrub
Some stains cannot be removed.

The pavements are immaculately clean.
Litter is not tolerated. The parks are
Carefully manicured. The public buildings
Rebuilt, modelled in the modern style.

A memorial marks the place where books
Were burnt. The Gestapo headquarters
Are now a museum. The flags of Europe
Hang where Swastikas once flew.

Cars throng the wide open boulevards
Where endless ranks of soldiers marched
And row after row after row of
Tanks rolled past the silent and awestruck.

But the dead still twitch the curtains
At their apartment windows and peer
Nervously into the street. They wait
For the knock on the door.

They stand, unseen, in long shuffling
Lines at railway stations to board
Trains clutching their suitcases and
Their children's hands and one-way tickets.

The Wall is down and fragments sold
To eager tourists. But a scar runs across
The city's memory and white crosses
Mark where hope died in search of freedom.

Berlin. A living memorial to men's inhumanity
To Man. The cross still glistens on the radio tower.

But some stains cannot be removed
No matter how hard you scrub.