Berlin Lights

After posting such a long and emotionally draining piece last week about the year Mama died, I was already thinking it was about time for another poem – something short and sweet – and just as I was pondering that idea, I heard on the radio that this is the 25th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which made my choice an easy one. This poem was written through my tears as I watched on that new-fangled channel, CNN, while the people of that divided city tore down their hated wall with sledge hammers, picks, tire-irons and anything else they could find.

It was only conjecture, when I wrote this poem, that others might put little pieces of the wall on plaques. Photo by Ken Schwarz via Flickr

Bits of the Berlin Wall for Sale: It was only conjecture, when I wrote this poem the night the wall fell, that others might someday turn little pieces of it into souvenirs, but it was, I suppose, prescient. Photo by Ken Schwarz via Flickr

That was the night we won the Cold War, and there was joy in it. It’s hard to believe the little child I saw on TV that night is now all grown up and probably married with his own little boy to shoulder. What a blessing that he was able to do so without the overarching, never-ending fear his forebears endured and, in the end, survived.

Berlin Lights

It’s not really so remarkable
To an optimist
To watch an armored wall
Come tumbling into a hundred
Thousand chunks of paranoia
To be secured overnight
Onto lacquered plaques
For the walls of I-told-you-sos
And would-be Grannies
Who want to be ready
When the time comes.

The radiant joy
Of chock-a-block smiles
Nestled in faces too deeply etched
By too much taken for too long would
Melt a stone,
And the crystal light
In the eyes of a child —
Astraddle his father’s
Bulldozer neck —
Can still make an optimist cry.

November 8, 1989

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