Saturday Night On The Death Strip
Imagine what it feels like
to take your shoes and socks off
in the middle of Berlin, sand between your toes
a stone’s throw from Karl-Marx-Allee
(formerly Stalin-Allee). Imagine beach huts
in the centre of Berlin near a bend in the river
and realising that where you’re sitting
used to be the Death Strip, the rat run between the two walls
raked with sand so that people’s footprints
would show up under the searchlights
from bricked-up window to bricked-up window.
How far away are you from Peter Fechter – eighteen
and bleeding to death, just out of reach,
you can hear his voice getting fainter with the bleeding
but he’s just out of reach, you can hear him shouting
but you’re in the line of fire.
The Wall is now just brass marks
in the pavement, runners for a sliding door
people keep forgetting was there
in spite of all the selfies.
We keep forgetting what it was like.
Have you ever knocked a wall through
and felt the whole house change?
How things used to be and whatever it was
you were afraid of. Have you ever noticed the bullet holes
in the Brandenburg Gate? You can’t see it from Google Earth,
but the streets of Berlin are covered in names.
Ian Harker’s poetry has appeared in magazines including Agenda, Stand, Other Poetry, and The North. His debut pamphlet collection The End of the Sky was a winner of the Templar Book & Pamphlet Award. He’s an editor for Iota Magazine, and his first full collection is forthcoming through Templar early next year.