25 Years Ago the Berlin Wall came down, even though it seemed like it would last forever when I wrote this. Thank you, President Reagan!

For the Brave Citizens of Berlin, East and West

YOU WOULD FIND OPEN FIELDS in the middle of town,
Bricks in the windows, buildings torn down,
Where kids used to play and their folks used to meet –
If you ever went walking down Bernauer Street.
One row’s been removed in the Cause of Defense,
Replaced by three rows of electrified fence
To discourage the masses from using their feet
Or digging their way under Bernauer Street.
There are minefields between them for those who would run,
And a guard on a tower, a scope on his gun,
Who would flee for his life if he thought he could beat
The fire he’d draw crossing Bernauer Street;
But he stays, for he knows their precision of aim.
He’s a bug in a bottle, a pawn in a game
With no rematch for zealots disrupting the neat
Checks and balances system of Bernauer Street.
Once people clutched windows here waiting for nets,
Their rescues cut short by alert Soviets,
Too high up to jump, too far gone to retreat,
They voted at last over Bernauer Street.
There are wreaths on the sidewalk to mark where they fell,
The Gefallen of peacetime escaping their hell,
Their epitaphs etched in the silent concrete
Still scream out like sirens on Bernauer Street.
Now a few Western tourists in dumb disbelief,
A woman with flowers, two decades in grief,
And the wind wailing words of eternal defeat
Witness World Revolution on Bernauer Street.
You can cross over cities and countries and seas,
Out terms of agreements with relative ease,
Off millions of people with glib-tongued deceit –
But you never can cross over Bernauer Street.
Don’t talk about freedom. Don’t tell me your lie
About world liberation and pie-in-the-sky
And the justice we’ll see when your struggle’s complete.
I have seen all I need to on Bernauer Street.
(Copyright Marylou Barry, 1985. Permission to repost if credit is included.)


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