I was with you in Berlin.

When we were in Berlin Sara and I went to see Howl at an English subtitled cinema, and I took the line ‘I’m with you in Rockland’ (Howl, part three) as inspiration for the refrain and the writing of: ‘I was with you in Berlin’.

I was with you in Berlin, where the lights were familiar yet foreign,

The streets they lit were unpronounceable on my tongue and your mouth muttered

The accent, thick as stew, in-between my kisses,

My English endearments on a German tram

I was with you on Museum Island, where the buildings rose like the dreams of men,

Above us, and the sun lay itself down on grey walls

Like a weary curse or a prayer for rest, where

The Berlin Dome was surrounded by beggars and ice

And tourists slip, slide and tip toe, their cameras shaky hands

Capturing the stone steps and sculptures of a bucking horse

Each muscle shivering in the January clean air

I was with you in Kreuzberg, where the streets

Were filled with dog turds, and the bins are broken

Upside down emptying their stomachs like drunken students, a medley

Of cans and bottles and cigarette stubs

The dead Christmas trees are all drying out between parked cars.

 

I was with you in the cafes where the herbal teas arrived,

Their scent and colour like old flowers revived in the frost

And our cold fingers clutched their steamed surface,

gradually warming ourselves at three euros a glass.

As we walk past graffitied buildings, past streets for tourists, past roads filled with cars on the wrong side, as we map tracked our way to

The East Side gallery, the cold embraced me more thoroughly than your arms

And your camera clicked the last of the Berlin Wall into its place.

At the Brandenburg Gate, where you brought pieces of wall

To take back for your nephew and niece, where I deliberated over postcards

And watched bicycles pass under the angel figure. Her arm rose in triumph

As the stone fell in pillars of water from her impregnable height

to the ground at my feet.

I was with you at Checkpoint Charlie, where school children collected in

Gossipy American groups, and the sandbags piled up, reminding me of floods,

Where you insisted on wanting to know which side of the wall we would have been on, and my ignorance and lack of curiosity was a barbed wire net

Irritating your eyes. I was with you as we passed the shops full of mementos

And innumerable pieces of broken up wall

We walked to the tower of terror, where a slate- dark building sat

Like a book full of the names of dead people

And I asked if we could leave, feeling the wind push us on to other places.

I was with you in our tiny apartment, on the second flight of stairs, where

The woman with her tiny dog took her bins out each morning

And two girls on a balcony smoked opposite our window

Observing your nudity after you got out of the shower.

The walls were rinsed by our lovemaking sounds,

Cleaning myself in you and emptying my skin of the stress of maps and money

Your fever kissed lips brushing my cool face

And the night coming swiftly down,

As we made another cup of thick tasting peppermint tea.

 

I was with you in Berlin, in Kreuzberg, at the Brandenburg Gate, and I retain

Their names like odd one cent pieces at the bottom of our suitcase

Shaken out after months of unpacking by parts. I find our travel guide maps

Circled and arrows pointing our imaginary steps.

On paper we move

again across Potsdam platz, down Friedrichstrasse,

My English endearments echoing among the German graffiti.   

 

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About

The Stirred quad is formed of Rebecca Audra Smith, Anna Percy, Jasmine Chatfield and Lenni Sanders.

Posted in Poetry Scrawls

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The Stirred team at Reclaim the Night Manchester 2015
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