Mitte

Paul Nemser

By the time the company reconfigured the work plan, I was too old to use any of my skills, But I went along looking for another pile of trinkets, figuring my pockets were hardly full.

When we got to Berlin, the streets were so torn up that the night was a stumble through a coal pit, the holes leading only to holes.

I fumbled to repair an underground switch which, no matter what you pushed, put every light on, like some harsh accuser who cannot remember what you did, but knows you were the worst man in Germany.

There was no fixing the light, but I told folks I might have, and though pasts come back, memories might change.

My trip report is best listing what I didn’t see, like the World War II bomb they defused at the main train station while repelling my taxi into long, looping detours. I fell asleep once, crossing blocks of dotted-line borders, but I remember the whole thing.

Section 3: ‘Missing at the Pergamon Altar – a giant’s neck trampled by a sandaled foot, a tensely twisted seagod’s gut, the heart-crushing way I was once in love with a headless goddess on a legless horse.’

By the time I’d written this, I had nothing left. A balloon brushed my nose where I slumped in a park. I cried over babies while grinning like a grate and stared at a cart with glassed-in cheese. Construction was quiet; it must be Sunday.

They brought me a hunk of grass frozen together like a bouquet and said: perhaps your family once lived here.