Michael H. Levin: Poems and Prose
Wheeling out of the Bahnhof
our dazzled eyes crinkle.
A syrup of linden blooms
sweetens cool air.
Beneath scrubbed stonework
fate walks these lanes
in all its disguises -- jackboots and bullwhips;
a snarl of lean blondness; dear cousins who flourished
till actions began
yet the street-wall
of Hain Strasse still pleases;
Tschaikowski Strasse tilts up
its Art Nouveau mansards, ambling
at ease towards the Park.
City of Bach
and genius, where chords spill from casements
as gulls skim warm seas. Fountain of commerce
whose trade fairs drew millions, where piles made
were trebled in furs,
fabric, fuels. Birthplace
of Wagner, and nightmares:
green woods verboten; mayors who holed up
with their families and fought Allied troops
to sprawled deaths for the Reich.
Yet sekt still flows below Mendelssohn’s windows,
his Garden of Eden not lost. O beauty! --
bruised city of memories, capital of crushed hopes.
Your past did not
warrant the aftermath:
twelve years of the gangster, then bomb-blasted
rubble, capped by five gray decades of spies.
Yet violins soar in the Small Hall;
the soft June night glistens,
mellow as dark German beer.
From 2014-2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards Collection (Poetica, Summer 2016); reprinted in Shalom Errinerungsbuch (Shalom Week Memory Book, 1970-2021), City of Leipzig (2022)