Autumn, Berlin

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Jacqueline Osherow

Autumn, Berlin

 

      My first days, all I notice of Berlin
      is the bustle in the tall trees out my window:
      red squirrels startled by an errant green

      woodpecker—a flipped chromatic preview
      of the coming commotion in the leaves,
      which, here, will seem to play out in slow-

      motion, as if the trees’ stockpiled reserves
      could keep them green a dozen hostile seasons,
      autumn, when it finally arrives,

      already past its prime, like tarnished bronze.
      But until then, all October, sheets of rain
      will polish the leaves to giant gemstones

      worthy of the treasury of Dresden,
      the Grünes Gewölbe—the green trove,
      (a huge green diamond on a hatpin,

      a plate of emeralds served up like hors d’oeuvres)
      nothing like the so-called greenery
      of the semi-desert city where I live,

      distinctly faded by the end of May,
      the foothills tawny, the lawns half golden
      despite our sprinklers’ nonstop hiss and spray.

      (Perhaps Berlin is envious of Dresden?
      wants it own over-the-top treasury?)
      By late September, our high-strung aspen

      has worked itself up into a fury,
      its branches in a mad dash to exchange
      dingy grayish-green for the momentary

      all-out abandon of yellow-orange.
      Berlin just stalls behind its emerald shield.
      Perhaps it can’t bear another change,

      so many and so rarely for the good
      in the last excruciating century.
      Rejuvenation lately. Let it hold.