Peter Fechter (1944-1962)

August 17, 1962: Peter Fechter was shot while trying to make his bid for freedom. He bled to death in agony right behind the Wall in Zimmerstraße near Checkpoint Charlie.

Walled in, death
by wall and concrete,
neither too tall, nor thick
but an empty zone
open to the appointed
West. The last jump,
the spark long since kept
lit against the spying
of the dark, blown out.

The guard observes
the thing drop dead
in no man’s land.
He doesn’t know
my name, and in duty
finds no word of rest,
his tough teeth rooted
in my flesh, chewing
the nerves and bones
of a painless body.
I’m living my last
hours, well protected
by guns and barbed wire,
lying down, dying, unburied,
lost to heaven under
the tree I may not climb.

A door slammed behind:
the snapshot of my mother
and I sitting still on the small
bed, neither East nor West
before we kissed goodbye.
It was the last spring
in my step. Bleaching
myself white on the tar,
nerves knotted or in bits
the breeze whirls around
my head, pressed against
the faint mark of a spine.

Where does the border run?
The blood sheds as the thought
clots but neither’s in a hurry.
What could fall has fallen.

My breath breaks through.


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