The following poems were written by Wlodzimierz Zawadzki in the late 1980s, during the last years of communism. At the time, East German citizens were allowed to travel to the West only upon reaching the age of retirement.


    border crossing


    Berlin Friedrichstrasse

    they move
    in fours and fives
    with canes
    coughing and stooped
    in their hands
    empty bags
    in their wrinkles
    a glimmer
    that theyll cross
    the young ones around
    have hungry eyes
    and fifty years
    of waiting
    still some step up
    and they disappear
    in a hole
    under the sign
    ausreise
    and behind them
    always new ones
    it looks like
    the entrance to
    heaven

    * * *


    two and two

    if they admit
    two and two is
    four
    how will they tell
    friend from foe

    translated by Bogdana and John Carpenter, with the author