Author photo: Fred Viebahn. Book cover: W. W. Norton & Company.

Eighth Testimony: The Berlin Wall

Far away—can you hear it? Static pinging
at the edges of thought: the sound a wall makes
powering down. Can it be this easy—

one misspeak and crowds assemble;
the Evil Red Bear cuddles with the Cowboy
and Jericho topples under a jubilant swarm

of hammers chiseling for souvenirs?
Don’t brood or marvel, just enjoy the music,
death strip lit for photo ops, bananas for all—

History doesn’t cough up triumphs easily.
Even fear has grown tired of harboring rage
and sent it to play out in a desert

so far away, no one will notice….

Reprinted from Playlist for the Apocalypse: Poems. Copyright (c) 2021 by Rita Dove. Used with permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

Rita Dove

Rita Dove, Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. Poet Laureate, is the only poet honored with both the National Humanities Medal and the National Medal of Arts. Her recent works include Playlist for the Apocalypse, Sonata Mulattica, and the National Book Award–shortlisted Collected Poems: 1974–2004. In 2021 she was awarded the Gold Medal for Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Charlottesville, where she teaches creative writing at the University of Virginia.