You don’t often see swans looking bad.
This morning early
at the edge of the Wannsee
near the ferry dock
were two I thought at first to be blown plastic bags
but they’ve outlawed plastic bags here
and when I got closer
I saw two big ugly swan bodies
with their long tough necks twisted backward
to rummage in rump feathers,
muscles ridged out by the effort,
both beautiful heads concealed and snuffling,
all that “sailing to Byzantium” nowhere around.
It was an unusually still morning in Berlin.
At home I made tea and went on reading a book about Kafka
who wrote a note to himself, July 1912,
“If that’s what you came for then I didn’t send for you.”

This Issue

June 26, 2008