We Are All Winter Now

Three poems about Glasgow and Berlin by Kathleen Heil

We Are All Winter Now

“Welcome to the Situation
[Winterfeldtplatz Markt, Berlin]”

The market makes me feel good
about myself because the people

don’t go there to feel good
about themselves. The exchange

rate I do nothing about but
watch. It has nothing to do with

the vendors beneath my house. Eighties music and
smokes are stupid enough to make me feel

nineteen again. I like my age though other folk
seem worried for me. Not fair, for it’s not the same

is it as good for me as it was for you?
Back at the nest someone asks me

if I’m in the 30–40 bracket. He’s with his dad,
who looks seventy. I am 33, and think about

the uncanny valley: all those fore-
heads that couldn’t be reached. We’ve all

gone winter, gone deep, the snow digging
its heels in the crevices of trees.

“Welcome to the Situation
[Tempelhof Airport, Berlin]” 

Shrieks sound the same
in any language. I spoke English
to avoid the shame I felt of being

alone. On the Feld, the sun
spoke in rays blown open
like a dinner party gone wrong.

Admit it, you were a little bit pleased.
Incongruous, like Wagner
playing in the hipster bar.

Outside, the kids scream why
you can’t help but wonder
how they’ll grow up,

as every Mercedes is getting more
extreme. Oh, oh, oh, it’s impolite,
but the Feld doesn’t mind

the loss of air traffic control
and you’ve never taken a bike
across the tarmac before.

The wind almost leaves
an invitation in its wake,
still with no name, just

the insistence that it will
all triumph before.


Saturday night in Glasgow,
along the snow-packed sidewalks

needled voices say, Please,
say, I know what I’m doing, say, Mum,

say something sweet. Why do I doubt
the good, insist

on shaking my fist
after the bad. Some dumb self-

punishing mechanism.
I’m trying to be better at

forgiveness, that little floe
forged in the center of the Kelvin

determined not to melt;
I admire its stubbornness,

tire of the familiar
refusal to surrender all.

Stefi, when you opened your hands,
let them alight on my head,

the passerine trapped in the chest
where more might give gave flight.

About the Author

Kathleen Heil writes and translates poetry and prose. Recent poems appear in The New Yorker, Beloit Poetry Journal, Fence, Witness, Sixth Finch, Barrow Street, and elsewhere. More at kathleenheil.net.

“Welcome to the Situation [Winterfeldtplatz Markt, Berlin],” “Welcome to the Situation [Tempelhof Airport, Berlin],” and “thermodynamics” are published here by permission of the author, Kathleen Heil. Copyright © Kathleen Heil 2018. All rights reserved.

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