The streets are empty, and rain starts falling. Some windows are lit, high up the tall buildings. Fallen leaves fly in the wind. Slowly he begins to hear the voices of the city. He has so much to learn: the geography of those unknown spaces, where the wall once stood, the secret boundaries, what was once the East, what is still the West, the ancient churchyards, the parks, the statues.
He listens to the voices, far away. He walks, he writes, he speaks to her. She says: “you have to forget what you learnt: this is different, you are on the other side of a mirror, you have to start again, and you cannot guess…”
It has not been a productive year for writing, so far. In the depth of last winter there were good intentions, even some actual work (!) then it all melted away, washed out by the rain. A few sunny days were not enough to rekindle the fire, there was too much distraction.
In part, the problem is with location: too many ideas got swallowed up, shredded, transformed by the magic of a city, a provinz, steeped in history. A few steps from the touristic centre, and there it is: an uninterrupted lineage, from Friedrich der Große, the napoleonic wars, the liberation, the revolution, 1871, straight down to the Sleepwalkers, two world wars, the occupation, and then now… As we ride around the Döberitzer Heide, we look at the vastness where der Alte Fritz had his army drilled before the Seven Years war (1753), where the imperial armies trained for the Kaiser’s African dreams, where the Red Army camped and vandalised the obelisk that commemorated the event, taking the metal with them (1992)…
So, it’s back to the beginnings, for writing about an uncertain future we must above all emphasise with the past, we must patiently listen to the ghosts.
Photography: a young European bison bull in the midst of the NSG Döberitzer Heide (Dallgow-Döberitz, Brandenburg) ©2017 Honoré Dupuis
When they left the S-Bahn station a thin drizzle was falling on the deserted sidewalks of Wedding. It was about 1:30 in the morning, there was hardly any traffic, dawn was still some hours away. They were tired of carrying their luggage: it had been a long journey, all the way from the other side of the other capital… But home was now very close!
On the plane they had celebrated with a half-bottle of half-cooled champagne, just happy to have made it, through the grid-locked roads, the late and overflowing trains, the idiotic obstacle course through duty-free (!) at the airport.
As usual, they felt happy to be back, under a sky that meant, for them, peace and love.
And then there was that diagnosis: something not right, but not so wrong that they should worry, for now. They were not going to, as they had long learnt that being suspicious was an attribute of free people. And so it went for these cells inside him, and their mysterious behaviour.
As she opened the door, they kissed. This was not their last trip.
Picture: ancient bell, Invaliden Friedhof, Berlin Mitte, ©2017 Honoré Dupuis
Die sich auf
Rädert den Menschen
Auf ihren Symbolen
(Any ideology based on violence tortures human beings on its symbols)
Photography of monument, near Reinickendorf’s townhall, Berlin – ©2017 Honoré Dupuis
Weekly writing prompt #105
We stop, and look back at the year past.
The sky fills with clouds, our hearts with the images of the city.
Our stage is here, where the trip starts and ends.
Picture: Landwehrkanal from Möckern Brücke, Kreuzberg
Weekly writing prompt #104
Long ago, the ice withdrew, leaving behind deep lakes, the river and magic white sand… Today the village stands, as though the city wanted to hide, where the fairy made sure people had a fine view of the ancient valley.
In my journal I noted: “Lübars und das Tegeler Fließ”.
Inspired by the Secret Keeper’s prompt, five words, and a visit to the commune of Lübars, in the Berlin borough of Reinickendorf.
Photo: the parish church, Lübars
On the map, the thin ruby line shows the road snakes its way from the center of the city – this immense space where children, and adults, play, and where the birds sing all day, all the way down south. We lose our way several times before reaching the city’s limits, and it does not matter, for this is a wonderful summer day. The trees are lush from the rain of the last shower, as we follow the trace of the old wall. We will take the escape route again, later, all the way to the old city.
Inspired by the Secret Keeper’s weekly writing challenge, June 19, and a Sunday ride on the Berlin-Leipzig long distance cycling route.
Inspired by The Secret Keeper Prompt, May 22nd
We receive the gift of the long days,
A wealth of light and its reflection on the lake,
Away the dread of winter,
Pollen dust settling on the bikes,
Coloring red the elongated shadows
On the sand of our world:
Words with a view…
After sundown the city soon wears a cloak of silence: aside from the main avenues, traffic thins out, children rush home, buses and trams, stop by stop, deliver their cargos of precious and tired humanity to their homes. This leaves the freedom of the quiet streets to the flâneurs, to the tramps, and to the night lovers. Except on Friday, when the young revel late, and noisily (bless their voices and their smiles) this temporary truce lasts until the early morning, just before five o’clock, when a new work day starts.
In these few hours of peace, the ghosts roam unheeded the deserted parks, along the canals, and if you are lucky, you may even see some poet, lost in her world, in the semi darkness of a bridge, or lying on a bench, near a lake. It is as if the city was catching up with her inner thoughts, before her children awake from their dreams…
Picture: berlin 2017 © martin u waltz. streetberlin.net, at http://streetphotography.streetberlin.net/image/158029491898
In 1937 the city of Berlin celebrated its 700th anniversary. 1237, was the year when the first artefacts and documents attested of the existence of an organised municipality, in what was then the town of Cölln, as Berlin was still then a mere nearby hamlet. In 1937, the NSDAP, the party of Adolf Hitler, had been in power for four years, following its electoral success in the general elections of 1933. Fleeing the noises and fracas of another election, we visited the most interesting, and beautifully laid-out exhibition “Berlin 1937, Im Schatten von Morgen“, at the Märkisches Museum, Berlin.
Fifty exhibits, photographies, audio recordings, day to day objects, display the day, as it happened, at a time when all organised resistance to the régime had long been brutally suppressed, and the city’s cultural and public life were totally subordinated to the dominating ideology. One can see the Wehrmacht marching, Coca Cola Gmbh doing well, and a typewriter, magnificently manufactured, and doted of a special key for “Schütz-Staffeln” (SS). There are also recordings of letters and diaries of people, then jailed, soon to be directed to an even worse fate, and their murder.
It all felt strangely close to us, not at all old history. Yet, since, the city saw so many tragedies and as much destruction as the human species can take. We walked those streets, and heard the marching songs. In 1987 Berlin celebrated its 750th anniversary.
Pictures: courtesy Märkisches Museum, Berlin