[from Carolyn Forché's The Angel of History, Harper Collins, 1994]
excerpt from "The Notebook of Uprising"
In a small hotel built not on its own remains but in place of itself:
Stiff bread and blue milk near the hissing fire.
The child asleep in a box by the stove.
A woman's face in lamplight, a misted woman blurring herself with soap in a
A man whose name she doesn't ask is given a bed and she watches him take
through the split curtain studies the street.
Lifting a tiny corner of tissue from the window to the glassy weather of March:
it is still there, damaged yellow paper.
The train rose along the bank above the tiled roofs, its windows blinded by
mud and smoke.
The same bells ringing then.
Flutes of wind through bullet holes and the sky pitch-smoke.
(She would have hidden her) the woman in whom she hides herself. . . .
An ash tree in the yard fifty years, soft-barked and bare-leafed as when
she peeled the blackout paper from the casement
for a glimpse of the hushed gray world of a war without end.
So she stood with her hopes at sail among linens and slept through her
childhood in his arms
more actually than if she'd been with him.
East Berlin is swept clean, its walks sheltered by oaks. There is nothing
to buy. People
stroll and talk, they queue at bookstores.
No one knows where Brecht is buried or where Benjamin lived. . . .
The Angel of History