story of the little river

I was sitting by the playful Panke River
swift and shallow, cold and murky,
when a girl climbed from it’s stony bed
Her skin was bright like winter’s snow
Her hair was green like watercress
Her eyes were blue, like the endless sky
She climbed up onto to the red brick wall
And sat beside me, wet and still
When she spoke her voice was like
The little torrent, bubbling, crackling, slight

I am the spirit of Panke, little daughter of the Spree.
Long ago I danced through forests cool and dark.
And beasts of every size and shape drank from my sparkling depths
The birds build nests along my banks,
while fish leapt through my liquid electricity
The deer came, and aurochs too beneath the beech and willow

When men they came, they worshiped me
They came from the mountains and the sea
To wash themselves in my sweet spring so I might heal them
And to little me they left offerings of gold and silver

The city grew along my banks, and farms where forest was.
Through winters long and dark, I froze and once ran red with blood
The men with cranes and shovels came.
Culverts, bridges, factories, pain
Then they turned me into a drain
My skin was blackened with the soot
My water brown with oil
My spring dried up
And my tears like acid burned.

but here I am, my skin is bright
my hair is green
I am alive
And birds and deer return


Six floors, no balcony, nineteenth century Berlin flats.
one gang of bickering Turkish brats.
twentyseven square meters, 2 windows, 8 walls
two coal burning ovens and a slate gray sky,
a slate gray coffee and a slate gray mind.
one plastic, yellow bathtub, three wooden cups
and a red, painted tui beside a rowan branch.

one cold autumn wind, scarf, shoes, hoody.
one thousand rough-cut, well-worn cobble stones
six floor soot stained facades.
 five gangly gipsy women; they do not beg here; they beg where the money is
three German red faced drunks, Prost! Prost! Gesundheit!
the gaudy Turkish shops.
two euro fifty, two pieces of bread, fives slashes of meat,
four scoops of salad, one squirt of herb sauce
danke schön, bitte schön

three Muslim ladies only their eyes to see
one Somali German he came here to be free
a Turkish man is singing, its beautiful to hear
an unkindness of crows, a twitter of sparrows
the abandoned factories
one dried up healing spring,
and one playful little river flanked by weeping willows