When are you Going to Berlin
There was a train from Prague
in the middle of the night with old-timey
red velvet rooms in first class.
The conductors came around
when we were in a tunnel and
took everyone’s passports
in the darkness, as if it were the cold
war or the big war, no one spoke
English or pretended not to.
The towns shifted by in slow
non urgency where Dresden was bombed
out and another city ornate and intact,
all lost eventually to transit speed
and a lack of sun, I would have
imagined there were bridges
And trollies and children laughing,
but the windows were thick and cold
to the touch, it could have been 100
nights as we roared slowly but surely
through the night of tunnels and
sordidness. There were metal sounds
and the cars rubbed against each other,
with gaps of dark air and a hay ground
below when the train car connections pull
apart roughly, as if they would split
open like a grapefruit, into segments
of fruit and skin.
Children in cages is how it started. Memories of George Takei, talking about growing up at Manzanar. How oppression is supposed to be an artifact, the fear of oppression was supposed to be a thing of the past, transports, internment camps, refuges. “When Are You Going to Berlin” deals with a transport during the second world war, and how fascism seems (at first) semi-polite, children are taken into custody via train and separated from families, passports collected, when it was dark, the children felt fear, not in control of their own.