1. The battles have passed.
The holes, however—the holes they have made remain.
Berlin is nothing…nothing if not world capital of holes.
2. On the holes, therefore,
has fallen the work of filling—of fulfillment.
Shadow fills the holes, and sometimes lamplight,
and sometimes the lamps of dawn and dusk.
3. In a Museum in Berlin
you can see the Gates of Babylon,
the Gates of Babylon sacred to the Goddess Ishtar,
the very gates over which great King Nebuchadnezzar ruled.
Shrapnel and shells have pocked the massive masonry
of that Museum.
We only do what the Babylonians did.
They found their pleasure, and they died.
It is true that King Nebuchadnezzar
suffered at last from a strange ailment.
He found he had four legs after all.
4. Berliners have learned to make
windows out of wounds.
It keeps things in perspective.
What you cannot—that’s precisely
what you can take with you.
Gather it into your arms as a pigeon
draws the great ghost of the sky to its side
though itself nondescript.
How it glitters, glitters, glitters on the heights.
5. So we ask: What are our eyes but holes?
Shattered, even before they open,
with the exigencies of sense.
Ruin alone has receptivity.
6. An absence is the best nest for absences,
likewise for the children of truant graves
Yet from today’s broken shell the blackbird
blossoms with the old dusky song. .
Here is elsewhere, elsewhere is here
is the dusky old song the blackbird sings.
7. All that the dead souls have left is what they do not have—
that dome wherein the clouds, the gold, the pigeons glide.
Every speech, every curse is ceded to the birds as air,
for music’s sake, in oblivious perpetuity.
8. Puncture remains, in the nature of things,
the only means of breathing;
through holes alone we sustain ourselves.
For souvenirs we pack away holes on holes
that glitter like goldleaf of the wind
in the blue-smoking sun—
the sun daily atop its victory column,
the sun that is night’s hopelessly radiant monument.