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Tag Archives Berlin

UNDER THE LIME TREES

For Mike Rogerson

 

The layout of our local park was finished

the year my mother was born, the year

before the Great War was started, and named

for Alexandra Saxe-coburg and Gotha

née Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg,

widow of the late King. An avenue

of lime trees – and a single row along

another path – was planted. My mother,

the Spring of the year she was war-widowed,

pushed me in my pram beneath them.

 

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CODA

In a black cab on our way to the ballet –

‘The Red Shoes’ at Sadler’s Wells – we passed

the munificence of St Pancras Station

that dominates the six lane highway

and then the removed magnificence

of King’s Cross set far back from the road,

and I was reminded of some of Moscow’s

imitative terminals, and I thought

how a railway terminus is like

a proscenium arch and the track

inevitable like a plot unfolding.

Terminus was the god of boundaries,

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THE FALL OF EUROPE

Lucheni had waited all day in the pines

above the lake. When she passed, he begged.

Her equerry dismissed him. As always,

self-absorbed, she saw nothing: an anarchist

with a grand and personal design.

On the quayside at Geneva, a week

later, Lucheni, the labourer,

stabbed Elizabeth, Empress of Austria,

with a homemade knife. Her husband foresaw,

like her assassin, anarchy: armies

entrenching in Bohemia; riders

galloping from Buda; at the Hofburg,

Jews and republicans!

 

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CIVIL WARS

After the horsemen and the slaves, before
the Stalins and the Hitlers, were the skilful
cities – cosmopolitan, pragmatic,
loud and solemn with towers, spires, domes.

There are some who would reprise a fictive past,
revert from countries of convenience
to imaginary nations, ignore
the corrupting legacy of empire,
the corrupted remittance of colonies,
oil trumping Crusades and martyrdom.

Europe could break like a slate across old
fault lines – a slate smudged with alphabets.
Europe could rub out its history.

There are swastikas in Brick Lane and Berlin,

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THE FALL OF EUROPE

The Assassin

The Assassin

Lucheni had waited all day in the pines

above the lake. When she passed, he begged.

Her equerry dismissed him. As always,

self-absorbed, she saw nothing: an anarchist

with a grand and personal design.

On the quayside at Geneva, a week

later, Lucheni, the labourer,

stabbed Elizabeth, Empress of Austria,

with a homemade knife. Her husband foresaw,

like her assassin, anarchy: armies

entrenching in Bohemia;

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