By the River I was Sitting

By the River I was sitting

By the River I was sitting
Watching barges floating by
Like the clouds so full of promise
In the blue and burning sky

Bearing jewels, bearing silver
From the mountains crowned with snow
Bearing spices, sweet and fiery
From the jungles down below

By the River I was waiting
For a boat to pick me up
Till the oars were folded inward
And the city-gates were shut

On my roof-top I was watching
Night like lapis-lazuli
While the stars were slowly rolling
Round the tiny lonely me

By Two Rivers I was dwelling
In a house of golden bricks
In my dress of snow and silver
Waving to intrepid ships

When the stars had come full circle
Strangers broke my city-gate
And my boat lay by the palm-trees
Finest date-wine was its freight

And it flew against the current
And it floated with the storm
Till I climbed the purple mountains
Where the River Twins are born

Christina Egan © 2011

Jar, elegantly curved, with brown and blue glaze.

 

This song of the woman by the river is taken
from my stage play The Bricks of Ur  (© 2011).

Place: City of Ur, Mesopotamia — Time: 2000 B.C.

Photograph: Assyrian jar (9th to 7th c. BC).
© The Trustees of the British Museum.

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Eat the World (When you get older)

Eat the World

When you get older,
you want to eat the world
for breakfast.

Colourful ancient glass window, prophet in red hat, red shoes, green cloak.When you get older,
you want to consult the radiant prophets
in the high sky-blue windows,
to soak up the tranquil cathedrals
of soaring silvery tree-trunks,
before the acid turns all of this
into sooty ruins.

You want to sprint to the station tonight
and jump on the train, shooting
through tunnels, under the city,
under the ocean, under the mountains,
through to the other side of the earth!

You want to slip into sleek capsules
to float up slopes, up skyscrapers,
up cliffs, up lighthouses,
up towards the clouds and
through the clouds!

When you get older,
you feel as if you could almost fly
into the sun already.

Christina Egan © 2017

Photograph: Prophet Hosea, window in Augsburg Cathedral, around 1100. By Hans Bernhard (Schnobby) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons.

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.

Berlin Zoo Station

Berlin Zoo Station

I.

Blurred impression of large railway station through train window.Building sites, cordons,
corridors, concourses,
people whizzing, weaving,
people sauntering, skipping,
dragging luggage along, around,
trains shooting in and out,
shuttles on a loom.

Faces, faces like packs of cards,
shuffled, shuttled across the city,
voices, voices from all the winds,
into all the winds, and everyone
means something to someone,
everyone means something,
means everything.

 

II.

Cloud strips, golden and pink, above a dark crowded square at the very bottom.

Trains bridging borders,
the square, sun, people,
people, specks of colour
propelled past me,
their shades brushing me,
their warmth, breath,
so near, here, now.

Life, life, yes, yet
nothing but
the first faint dawn
of a future with no night,
no barriers, boundaries:
destination without distance,
one web of light.

Christina Egan © 2016 (I) / 1999 (II)

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

Orange Butterflies

Orange Butterflies
(Monarch Butterflies)

Brittle ochre leaves…
No – sinewy butterflies,
waiting through winter!

*

Orange butterflies,
tiny, tender, untiring,
crossing continents.

*

A swift golden cloud:
a million bright butterflies
following their stars.

*

Christina Egan © 2016

Clusters of deep-orange butterflies on deep-green leaves, similary shaped.

Monarch butterflies cluster in Santa Cruz, California.
Photograph by Brocken Inaglory via Wikimedia Commons.