Today I am off work and enjoying being warm inside the apartment after returning from the gym. It is freezing outside. On my way home I actually started making those sounds elderly people make as they walk through the cold. We started the morning off nice and early and finally made our way to one of our favourite places...

...the Bürgeramt, to register our new address. These establishments always amuse me. They are so cold and strict looking, void of any character or charm, resembling hospital waiting rooms. Luckily we only had to wait for half an hour before our number chimed on the electronic board above us. We went into Platz 1 and sat down with our assigned agent. I think I said “Hello”, “Thank you” and “Bye” the whole time. Now we are registered and true dwellers within our building! It’s a relief to have that over with.

Tonight we are going to visit a Weihnachtsmarkt. They all officially sold their first glasses of Glühwein this Monday signifying that Christmas is well and truly approaching. Before I arrived in Germany I was oblivious to how festive December could be. Of course in New Zealand we have the usual Christmas trees in malls, tinsel in banks, dreadful carols playing in the supermarkets and all the irritating advertisements on television, but nothing is like Christmas in Germany. Sipping on a hot glass of Glühwein amid a festive market atmosphere wearing layers of warm clothing and scarves, gloves and hats is quite enchanting.

This week’s poem was first read to me by one of my English lecturers at University. I was taking a paper called “Love, loss and looking around” and I had convinced my poor friend Michael to take the paper with me, which he may have regretted later. But I loved that semester, I discovered so many amazing poets through the course material and my own research. The best part of that particular course was the lectures with Brian and hearing him read the poems aloud. There was something so reverential in his voice, his rhythm and tone, especially when he read any poem by Alan Shapiro. He adored Shapiro and a lot of our course material was made up of his poems. His adoration quickly wore off on me and Alan Shapiro is still one of my favourite poets. I still have a few poems on the tattered photocopied sheets he handed out to us back in 2007. I’ve taken them with me everywhere and I found this one after a long hunt through my things this morning. I wish I had a recording of Brian reading this poem! My favourite line is where he so poignantly describes the breeze from the fan sweeping across the lovers bodies: ‘cool air like a ghostly lotion that vanishes as soon as spread along the skin’

Enjoy your weekend!

Alan Shapiro

Only the low whir of the blades
becoming louder as the fan
turned towards us,
softer as it turned away;

only the faintest rippling
of cool air like a ghostly lotion
that vanishes
as soon as spread along the skin

from shoulder down to hip, from hip
back up to shoulder, the sensation
of it there
and not there, hardly felt so much

as sensed, not even sensed but dreamt of,
the very hair tips dreaming it,
as you and I
adrift in one another dreamt

what we were doing as we did it,
adrift in fluencies that came
as in a dream
unbidden, as in a lucky poem

whose turns are unpredictable
and just, our bodies easing out
beyond the need
to ask, what will become of us?

no backwash of a memory,
no shifting weather but the fresh
air that we could
and couldn’t feel along the skin

that cooled and heated, heated and cooled
all afternoon within the room
in which we drifted
nowhere while the fan kept turning.

Posted in: JournalWriting