Herbert Nehrlich

Rookie (04 October 1943 / Germany)

Border Incident - Poem by Herbert Nehrlich

I huddled there, inside a drum
that stank of rancid oils and rotten fish.
So close to freedom, nudging now the gate,

my legs were cramped and toes wet-cold and numb.
I saw the shadow of the borderguard, I wish
those night mares that had started late

would slip away, such never ending dreams.
He kicked the drum which sent some tiny grains of rust
into my eyes, alert but forced to sneeze,

sheer luck was able to suppress it, when the beams
of giant search lights quickly added to my frust.
Then, shortly after, the command, it ordered 'Freeze'.

The game was lost by then, I climbed out then and there
to face the music only STASI would provide,
when I discovered that the guard had teased his mate.

I was just standing there, inside the searchlight glare
and quickly thinking of a better place to hide,
when friendly Gods did intervene, and now my fate

was looking better by the second, when three shots
rang out not far from where I almost had been caught,
I saw him running with his shirt soaked full of blood.

He would not make it, as this border knew no buts,
and if anyone, like I had really thought
that he could hard-breech through this fence, dividing mud

they would now grasp the real meaning of a border,
between two Germanys, and guarded by obsession.
And at that moment he went down for the last time.

Then, from the tower came a very cruel order,
it was a voice of piercing armour and aggression.
They let him bleed to death and said it was no crime.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, June 27, 2005

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