The bikes breeze along Blucherstrasse. The morning sunlight sparkles in the treeline. Blocks of cool shadow pool the paving. Bursts of warmth to bathe in. Blurred cars. The windows of the shops reflecting everything & everyone, me, too, on the street. Bikes, more bikes, flowing in collective; groups of five, eight, twelve, more: Kreuzberg is fluid. I give up counting. There is still time to get to where they are going; work, school, home, somewhere. I wonder. I watch the riders as they stream past: i see legs, strong arms, flashes of faces, hair flowing behind heads. I hear cupfuls of sound; unknown words – greeting, phone call, song; breath. I draw in the aroma of the pastries, the coffee, the cigarettes, the perfume of the city, also – any city, any morning, any summer day: the workmen throwing scaffold, the cars, the vans, the buses, the bins, fruit-sweet & spoiling.
The ghosts loiter in the cool trees, between the cracks in the paving, atop the cemetery wall on Barutherstrasse; beyond. They live. My stomach butterflies as we pass. They are bemused, as I am, by the graffiti. They enjoy the sun on the granite & the cool marble. They enjoy the peace. I read their names, their dates. The grass dries. A sleepy-looking dog saunters between the gravestones, she seeks them, too. She looks up as I pass – looks right through me. A man stands at a skip, poking, half-heartedly, at the contents with a stick. He says hello & as I return his greeting, I see that he is waiting for a woman who is crouched alongside the cover of the skip, between it & a parked car. She is pissing. Or, has just finished. She smiles, embarrassed & castigates the man. He laughs.
I am some art (Barutherstrasse)
Mehringdamm is busy, shadowed. People pour into & out of the U-Bahn. Shop keepers arrange their wares, postcard towers, trays of fruit, tabled secondhand clothes, boxes of books outside the shops. They smoke, they chat. The bikes breeze. We gather at the crossings. The crossings tick-tick-tick, faster, faster, faster. The Ampelmannchen strides purposefully in his hat or else holds out his red palms wide. I will grow to love this little man, as everyone does. He reminds us when to cross, when to not. He reminds us of the past. He is one of my favourite things in Berlin. He is always a surprise. He is timeless…
The apartments on Monumentenstrasse – pastel, faded grandiose – doorways! This is a quiet stretch, a lovely walk, connecting, I think I’d be correct in saying Kreuzberg & Schoneberg. It’s a wonderful, ghostly district. On Crellestrasse I stop off at the Nostalgie Cafe… it just catches my eye. Pennants fly & there is a table or two outside on the shaded side of the street. It is dark inside. They have just opened. The walls are covered with faded, dark framed, prints – Jagger, Jerry Lee, Johnny Cash. A couple smoke at the bar. I order a coffee & I shall sit outside & write postcards. By the time I leave I feel as if I have made friends here; the three of us.
On to Haupstrasse 155…