Nächster Halt: Bahnhof Zoo

Nächster Halt: Bahnhof Zoo
 
Blurred impression of large railway station through train window.Schließ ich den Koffer und zähle die Gleise,
gleitet durch gleißende Weiten der Zug,
findet durchs Vorstadtgestrüpp eine Schneise,
bohrt sich in Schleuse um Schleuse sein Bug.
 
Zittert das Herz zwischen zahllosen Dächern,
lauscht auf die Stimme: “Berlin, Bahnhof Zoo” ––
Irgendwo hier muß die Zukunft doch lächeln,
winken das Glück,– aber wo, aber wo?
 
Aus den Kanälen und Seen muß es sprudeln,
aus Boulevards und aus Marktplätzen sprühn…
In das Gewühl taucht mein lautloses Jubeln:
Heute is heute, und hier ist Berlin!


Nächster Halt: Flughafen Schönefeld

Cloud strips, golden and pink, above a dark crowded square at the very bottom.Liegen die Häuser gewürfelt, gehäufelt,
liegen die Häuser gefädelt, gereiht…
Fortgerollt wird man, hinübergeschleudert,–
aus ist die schillernde, schäumende Zeit.

Häkeln die Züge die Orte zusammen,
kreuzen die Grenzen und flicken das Land;
häkelt die Liebe die Herzen zusammen,
fügt in die harrende Hand eine Hand.

Häkeln die Flugzeuge schneeweiße Spitze
über die Dächer, die Flüsse, den Wald;
häkelt das Abendrot goldene Spritzer
voller Verheißung und Heilung und Halt.

Christina Egan © 2016/2017

These two poems about arriving in Berlin and departing from Berlin form, together with the round-trip Nächster Halt: Potsdamer Platz, my Berlin Triptych. For English poems about the same railway station, go to Berlin Zoo Station.

When I describe how trains and planes sew towns together and mend countries, I am naturally remembering how my country and its capital city were divided for almost half a century. The family members or lovers waiting for each other at the railway stations and airports may be separated by this fate or a different one.

Photographs: Railway station and airport in Berlin. Christina Egan © 2016.

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kairos (eben im zenith)

kairos

eben im zenith des tages
tret ich in ein helles haus
und ich folge seinen stufen
und ich find nie mehr hinaus

eben im zenith des jahres
fällt dein flammendes gesicht
in den brunnen meines auges
mit dem hohen sonnenlicht

eben im zenith des lebens
flutet sanft mein goldnes haar
in die schale deiner hände
und die liebe wird uns wahr

denn du findest meinen namen
den geheimen dachtürknauf
und im purpurroten buche
deines schicksals scheint er auf

Christina Egan © 2015


Noble townhouse with rich stucco ornaments and rose-tree.In Greek philosophy, the kairos is the moment — the right moment or the destined moment. The incident takes place at a triple zenith: at twelve noon, around midsummer solstice, and at the highest point of life. The latter, if it exists, will be different for everyone…

Possibly, the story happens only in the narrator’s mind: she imagines that one day in June, she steps into an unknown building and “never leaves again”, because her name was written in someone else’s book of destiny — so they fall in love at first sight.

Photograph: Christina Egan © 2016.

um mitternacht (der letzte bus)

um mitternacht

um mitternacht
der letzte bus
die straße strömt
ein dunkler fluß

die häuser schlafen
wand an wand
die bäume ruhn
im brautgewand

um mitternacht
der letzte kuß
die kurze kerze
loht mit lust

der mond hängt schräg
ein heller mund
die stille quillt
aus sattem grund

Christina Egan © 2015


This night scene is so peaceful that everything seems animate
and comfortable: the road is streaming, the houses are sleeping,
the trees are slumbering, dressed in blossom like brides.

Yet the person observing this is restless: seeing bright lips in the slanting
moon crescent, burning up like a candle, and knowing that life is
as short as a candle…

The German word ‘Lust’ could mean ‘lust’, ‘desire’, ‘zest’ or ‘pleasure’!

This is the Suburb

This is the Suburb

The houses lined up like birthday cakes:
brick cubes covered in cream-coloured paint,
brick cubes covered in brick-coloured paint,
giraffe-neck chimneys as quaint decorations.

The gardens stretching like flower-boxes,
each bush in blossom a witness to life,
the trees at the corners picked from a toy box,
perfectly round and perfectly green.

This is the suburb. If only you saw it
the very first time, descended from Mars,
flown in from the desert, arrived from abroad,
you’d clap your hands in wonder and joy!

Christina Egan © 2017

Front gardens with brick walls, flower pots, rose tree.

Photograph: Christina Egan © 2013.

England’s endless rows of terraced homes and front gardens, the brick walls and painted ledges and long chimneys — insignificant or actually invisible to their inhabitants beg to be photographed by the strolling visitor or newcomer.

The all-year-round greenery and the abundant flowers in England — even around the giant capital city — will amaze those whose home countries are hotter and drier or else colder and harsher, or whose cities have less green and more stone.

I have read that an immigrant from Bangladesh asked herself if English people are poor because many did not paint their brick houses! I have heard of other Central Europeans who, like myself, took the spring flowers in front of public buildings for artificial ones!

My City Calls (Grey Roofs Grey Walls)

My City Calls

Grey roofs grey walls
Make up this place
A rough and kind
Familiar face

The spires chimneys
Market stalls
Suspended bridges
Station halls

Oh face of walls
So great so mild
My city calls
Come here my child

My city calls
With golden chime:
While winter falls
Stay here some time

The sky is full
Of rain and snow
Of miracles
To fall and grow

So many faces
In the street
Yet far away
The one I need

Far is my dear
So far away
But I am here
Just day to day

My city calls
Me with her charms
My heartbeat falls
into her arms

Christina Egan © 1995 / 2012


 

Like in Heimkehr nach Köln, the big city is seen as a mother. There are other poems or songs where I describe it as a person — man or woman, although I feel that a city is female. It is a personal relationship: my heart beats for the city, as I claim in Geflecht / Geflechte.

Orange Beads

Orange Beads

I.

I nod to the flower
the colour of dark wine
stalks and spikes that tower
above my legs and spine

twin doors an orange spill
the only one in town?
why is my own door still
an ordinary brown?

O sweet day!

II.

All these parallel roads
the orange doors are where?
again the suburb soaks
in sunshine hello there!

they smile and say hello
all else though stays behind
their sturdy frames and so
I keep my orange find

two bright beads

III.

The hawthorn turns orange
the blackberry turns black
mingling at the park’s fringe
behind the cycle track

the sky is blue as if
this were a normal state
as if we could just live
beyond the iron gate

of summer

Christina Egan © 2016


In London, you can find many front doors painted in red, blue, or green, but I had never spotted an orange one. I have mentioned a striking yellow door elsewhere. I usually go out without a camera, but I capture impressions with my pen!

There are so many green spaces in London that you can walk through parkland for hours. To find blackberries and hawthorns tucked between a duck pond and a little copse is quite normal in this vast city of over eight million people.

The verse pattern is borrowed from the French poet, Jean-Yves Léopold, who does not have a website. Eight short rhymed lines, almost without punctuation, are followed by a ninth line which is even shorter and does not rhyme at all, so it stands out.

Geflecht / Geflechte

Geflecht

Jedes Leben ist verstrickt,
Masche um Masche, Stich um Stich,
in die Leben neben ihm,
ob wir’s wollen oder nicht.

Jede Reihe ist verschlungen,
ohne daß das Garn je bricht,
in das vorige Geflecht,
ob wir’s wissen oder nicht.

Jeder Jahrgang ist der Boden
für die nächste bunte Schicht:
Kaum geboren, sind wir Ahnen
für ein künftiges Geschlecht.

Christina Egan © 2015

Silk cloth dominated by vivid pinks and greens.

Geflechte
(Altstadt von Köln)

Reihen auf Reihen von Häusern,
hell und freundlich im Frühlingslicht,
Reihen auf Reihen von Fenstern,
schimmernd in allen Augenfarben.

Und hinter einem jeden Fenster
Gesichter… Geschichten… Geflechte.
Und unter einem jeden Pflaster
Pflaster… Pfade… Schwellen.

Stockwerk um Stockwerk von Leben,
hinauf ins ausgelassene Blau!
Schicht um Schicht von Geschichte
bis in den unbetretenen Staub.

Ich strecke mich hin auf dem Mäuerchen hier
und höre die Vögel und höre ein Herz –
Das Herz diese Platzes? Das Herz dieser Stadt?
Mein eigenes Herz, wie es schlägt für die Stadt?

Christina Egan © 2016


These poems describe human life as a knitted or woven tissue: every person is a mesh amongst, above, and below others. Every little life is part of a layer of history, as every modest buidling and ordinary street is.

Every life is interwoven with  others. Every single one of us is history!

I wrote the second poem on the way back from Cologne, where I had briefly rested on a little wall, which turned out to be in the area of the ancient forum and which in hindsight reminded me of excavated foundations.

For a poem on weaving words into a poem, see the previous post, Word Weaver.

Photograph: Silk cloth from Madagascar. – © The Trustees of the British Museum