Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

अबंदोनेद prose

I thought I could escape Berlin by train. I started at Zoo Station. Mine wasn’t one of the little city trains filled with bicycles, business suits, and pickpockets, lumbering around the city. My train was a land cruiser, destination distant. We stopped at the Hauptbahnhof long enough to encumber the seats with loud families, young people backpacking between hostels, and men in better business suits playing cards and smoking on their way to important meetings. I thought I could escape with them, on their train.
I watched out the window a long time. I watched the graffiti for signs of life. The Brother’s Kiss was changed everywhere. The Russian had blonde hair, and a beard like me. The German’s skin was smooth and nut brown like an old Turkish woman with short, black hair. The geometrical graffiti had changed, too. All those swoops and whirls had formed an abstract portrait of a room I knew too well. All the letters and words were pieces of a name slowly emerging from the walls. Ampelman was no longer cheerful. He was running away, and the colors of the city reached for him like monsters. Streets got lost in each other.
I saw Berlin everywhere. Everywhere I saw Berlin. I saw Berlin and Berlin and Berlin.
The train passed out of Berlin, into the suburbs that littered the flat, ruined former Soviet countryside all around. I breathed easier outside the city.
I thought I could escape the signs. I thought my train would carry me somewhere new. I could start over, make a fresh begin new work and make new friends. All the mistakes of Berlin would not follow me across the long plain to the mountains at the end of the sky.
I closed my eyes when Berlin fell behind us on the tracks. I tried to wipe Zoe out of my mind. I tried to push her father out of my mind. Where do our memories go when we push them aside? They creep under the edges of the mind’s mattress, like the monsters of our childhood. We see their tremulous forms under the surface of everything.
I drank coffee so I wouldn’t sleep. It didn’t work. Berlin was in my dreams. Berlin was everywhere...

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